One in four people in the world will suffer from hearing problems by 2050, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned this past week, and requested a supplementary investment for general prevention and treatment. The “first global report on hearing” outlined a series of measures, which it estimated to cost 1.33 dollars (1.10 euros) per person per year.
“Crossing one’s arms will be costly in health terms and for the well-being of those affected, as well as the economic losses resulting of their exclusion from communication, education and work,” says the report.
Currently, one in five people worldwide suffers from hearing problems, it adds. But, indicated: “the number of people with hearing loss may increase more than 1.5 times in the next three decades”, up to 2.5 billion, against 1.6 billion in 2019. Of that total, in 2050, 700 million would be in a serious enough situation to need some type of treatment.
Almost 80% of people with hearing loss live in poor countries, which means that most people have not received the help they need. Even in richer countries, with better infrastructure, access to care is often uneven, according to the report.
The report proposes a package of measures, including public health initiatives that range from reducing noise in public spaces to increasing vaccines for diseases like meningitis, which can cause hearing loss. It also recommended screening to try to identify the problem at key stages in people’s lives. Among children, he says, hearing loss could be predictable in 60% of cases.