Prevention of blindness and deafness

Worldwide hearing care for developing countries (WWHearing)

WHO and WWHearing

WHO and WWHearing embark on a new collaboration to provide affordable hearing aids

On 18 October 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) and WWHearing (World Wide Hearing Care for Developing Countries) agreed to work together to encourage and enable provision of affordable hearing aids and services on a massive scale, especially in developing countries and underserved communities. By working together, WHO and WWHearing will consolidate and strengthen global efforts to eliminate avoidable hearing impairment and promote better hearing.

WWHearing is a new global partnership of key stakeholders, formally created in April 2006, whose mission is to encourage large-scale provision of affordable hearing aids and services in developing countries and underserved communities, within the framework of the WHO Guidelines for hearing aids and services for developing countries, and to remove the barriers that prevent hearing aids and services from being appropriate, acceptable, affordable, available, and accessible in developing countries.

WHO launched the Guidelines for hearing aids and services for developing countries in 2001 and published the second edition in English and Chinese in 2004. At the time of the launch WHO called on the private sector to provide affordable hearing aids in developing countries. Today, 278 million people in the world are affected by moderate bilateral hearing loss or worse. Two-thirds of these people are in developing countries and most would benefit from hearing aids. More than 30 million hearing aids are needed annually in developing countries, together with services and staff to fit them, but current annual provision is less than 1 million.

Providing appropriate and affordable hearing aids and services worldwide is the most effective and cost-effective way of making a major reduction to the burden of hearing impairment. Yet currently fewer than three percent of people in developing countries who need a hearing aid actually have one.

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