WHO: 1.6 billion people with hearing loss

According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.6 billion people worldwide have difficulty hearing or not at all. By 2050, the number of those affected could even rise to 2.5 billion

Millions of people could be saved from hearing damage with relatively simple means. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains in a report presented on Tuesday. Around 1.6 billion people live with hearing loss, as the Geneva-based UN agency extrapolated for World Hearing Day on March 3rd. "We know how we can prevent that - or at least a lot of it," said WHO expert Shelly Chadha to journalists.

60 percent of all cases could be avoided

"Medical treatments and surgeries can fix most ear diseases and potentially make up for hearing loss," the WHO writes. Hearing loss occurs, among other things, from problems during childbirth or from infectious diseases. According to Chadha, almost 60 percent of the cases in children could be avoided - for example through vaccinations, early detection and better care for mothers and newborns.

Vaccinations against rubella and meningitis as well as the early detection and treatment of acute otitis media could save many children from hearing damage, it said. For adults, noise protection and good ear hygiene are important to prevent the risk of hearing loss. According to WHO data, around 1.1 billion young people are at risk of harm from listening to music too loudly. Legal regulations are increasingly necessary for this area.

Only 17 percent of all those who are hard of hearing have hearing aids

The WHO estimates that due to the growing world population and increasing life expectancy, the number of people with hearing loss could rise to almost 2.5 billion by 2050 if medical care is not improved. Around every fourth person on earth would then live with a hearing impairment. The number of people with severe
Restrictions threaten to increase from 430 million to 711 million. This group should be better supplied with hearing aids, hearing implants and lessons in sign language.

Currently, only 17 percent of the hearing impaired worldwide who need hearing aids use such aids. "There is a huge shortage because hearing acoustics are not a priority in many places," said Chadha. Most developing countries also lack ENT doctors, speech therapists and teachers for the deaf, according to the WHO. Of the low-income countries, a good three-quarters have only one ear, nose and throat doctor per million inhabitants. In a country with the population of Germany, this means that there are only about 83 such specialists in the whole country.