Prevention of blindness and deafness

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

Vision

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.

Overall aim

To establish community-based, sustainable and inclusive strategies for ear and hearing care, integrated within the primary health care systems of WHO's Member States.

Programme Objectives

  • Generate and use evidence to guide action at global and national levels.
  • Advocate for increased political and financial commitment of Member States and other stakeholders for hearing care.
  • Support development and implementation of national hearing care strategies, plans and policies, within the framework of primary health care.
  • Develop suitable tools for promoting hearing care in WHO Member States.
  • Strengthen multisectoral engagement and effective partnerships for improved hearing care.

What is ear and hearing care?

Ear and hearing care includes comprehensive, evidence-based interventions to prevent, identify and treat ear diseases and hearing loss; re/habilitate and support people with hearing loss, through the health system and in collaboration with other systems.

  • The approaches to promote ear and hearing care focus on:
    • prevention of hearing loss, including primordial prevention1;
    • early identification and treatment;
    • habilitation and rehabilitation;
    • support services.

Ear and hearing care strategies should prioritize service provision at the community and primary level of health care, with strengthening of the secondary and tertiary levels of the health care infrastructure to ensure comprehensive ear and hearing care at all levels. Ear and hearing care strategies should be based on the principles of universal health coverage.

Approaches to promote ear and hearing care must be multisectoral, evidence-based, culturally appropriate and in line with the recommendations of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability. They should take into consideration the latest advances in technology and use available networks to develop or strengthen capacity.

1: Primordial prevention…aspires to establish and maintain conditions to minimize hazards to health…it consists of actions and measures that inhibit the emergence and establishment of environmental, economic, social and behavioral conditions, cultural patterns of living known to increase the risk of disease.