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World Hearing Day: Unaddressed hearing loss costs nearly $750 billion globally

More than 360 million people worldwide have hearing loss, which comes at a cost of nearly $750 billion dollars globally, according to the World Health Organization.

To raise awareness for the economic impact of hearing loss, the WHO is highlighting the direct, indirect and societal costs of hearing loss as part of World Hearing Day 2017: Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment.

“Hearing loss must be addressed as a public health issue,” according to the WHO report, Global costs of unaddressed hearing loss and cost-effectiveness of interventions. “There is a need for policy-makers to allocate resources for, and plan strategically to promote, access to ear and hearing care.”

The Report

The WHO estimates that unaddressed hearing loss costs the health-care sector $67-107 billion, excluding the cost of hearing technology.

Educational support for children with unaddressed hearing loss in schools costs an estimated $3.9 billion.

Working adults who have unaddressed hearing loss, causing them to be less productive at work, or even worse, be fired and subsequently go on unemployment, costs an estimated $105 billion annually, according to the report.

“Overall, this cautious analysis suggests that the annual cost of unaddressed hearing loss is in the range $750–790 billion globally,” according to WHO

Along with the direct and indirect costs of untreated hearing loss, dealing with hearing loss also has a large societal cost.

When a person is not treated for hearing loss, they can become isolated, detached and avoid daily activities, costing $573 billion each year.

When a person is not treated for hearing loss, they can become isolated, detached and avoid daily activities, costing $573 billion each year.

“These costs are calculated on the basis of the monetary value attached to avoidance of a year lived with disability and draw upon disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) attributed to hearing loss,” according to WHO.

Is  there a solution?

The WHO concludes that hearing devices are a cost-effective strategy, especially when those with hearing loss use the technology regularly, and they are supported with rehabilitation services.

Read more: Measuring the Cost of Hearing Loss  

Individual countries now need to analyse specific data and costs, in order to make a plan to reduce economic impact of untreated hearing loss, and strengthen the existing evidence of the monetary impact, according to WHO. 

Jill von Büren
Jill von Büren
Jill von Bueren is the editor-in-chief of HearingLikeMe.com. Originally from the U.S., she now resides in Zurich, Switzerland. She has a background in journalism and is currently working on her second novel.