Deafness prevention

World Hearing Day: 3 March

World Hearing Day is observed on 3 March as an annual advocacy event to promote hearing care. The theme for World Hearing Day 2018 is ‘Hear the future’.

Overview of WHO’s programme for the prevention of deafness and hearing loss

A resolution on hearing loss was approved and adopted by the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva on 30th May. The WHO programme for prevention of deafness and hearing loss works with the vision of a world in which no person experiences hearing loss due to preventable causes and those with unavoidable hearing loss can achieve their full potential through appropriate interventions, education and empowerment. It aims to promote ear and hearing care (EHC), integrated within the primary health care systems of its Member States.


WHO estimates that approximately 15% of the world’s adult population experience some degree (mild and above) of hearing loss. Of these, 360 million live with disabling hearing loss. Majority of those with hearing loss live in the less developed areas of the world.

Make Listening Safe initiative

WHO estimates that 1.1 billion young people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. This includes exposure to loud sounds on personal audio devices and in noisy entertainment venues. In order to address this concern, WHO has launched the Make Listening Safe initiative. This initiative aims to reduce hearing loss caused by listening to loud sounds by promoting safe listening.

WHO network of collaborating centres for prevention of deafness and hearing loss

The WHO programme for prevention of deafness and hearing loss (PDH) is supported in its activities by a network of WHO Collaborating Centres.

fact buffet

Hearing loss

466 millionpeople live with disabling hearing loss

World Hearing Day

Safe listening

>1 billionyoung people (12-35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds

Make Listening Safe

Global costs

750 billionis the overall cost of unaddressing hearing loss globally

Global costs of unaddressed hearing loss

Featured publications

Childhood hearing loss: strategies for prevention and care

WHO primary ear and hearing care training manuals

Planning for ear and hearing care

Other publications

Call for expression of interest

Supporting the development of the World report on hearing


Preferred profile of hearing aid technology suitable for LMICs

Global costs of unaddressed hearing loss and cost effectiveness of interventions

World Health Assembly Resolution on hearing loss

Upcoming events

3rd Strategic Planning Meeting of WHO Collaborating Centres for the Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss

Beijing, China
9-10 November 2017

Recent events

6-7 July 2017: WHO ad hoc consultation on advocacy tools for ear and hearing care: WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland

On 6-7 July, experts in hearing health, public health and health communication met to discuss the outline of a handbook for advocacy on deafness and hearing loss and determine the types of advocacy tools required. During the two days, they worked to develop the outline of the advocacy handbook and determine the materials required for effective advocacy at national level. The handbook is expected to be developed through a consultative approach and be launched in 2018. Development of advocacy materials will be undertaken in coming years, based on resource availability.

3-4 July 2017: 2nd Stakeholders Consultation for the WHO Programme on Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss, 3-4 July 2017

2nd Stakeholders Consultation for the WHO Programme on Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss From 3-4 July, WHO hosted this consultation, involving a broad range of stakeholders in the field. The gathering served as an opportunity to present the May 2017 World Health Assembly resolution on hearing loss, including the call to develop a world report on hearing; share WHO's current activities on hearing, including the Make Listening Safe initiative; discuss strategies for global action for hearing loss, including around data, advocacy, and technical support; and review the impact of the annual World Hearing Day and other like initiatives. Participants also debated the merits of creation of a global alliance for hearing. Next steps were considered on all of these efforts.

30 May 2017: World Health Assembly passes a resolution on hearing loss

4-5 May 2017: 3rd meeting of the eye and ear care managers at the ministries of health Latin America and the Caribbean : Bogota, Colombia

Managers of eye and ear care programmes from 26 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean met in Bogota to discuss ways and means to promote ear and hearing care as well as eye care strategies in their countries. The meeting, which was organized by the WHO Regional Office of the Americas sensitized the country representatives to WHO’s programmes and tools and planned future actions in the participating Member States.

Contact us

World Health Organization Prevention of Blindness and Deafness (PBD) 20 Avenue Appia CH-1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland