Prevention of blindness and deafness

Strategies for prevention of deafness and hearing impairment

Prevention of deafness and hearing impairment



Prevention of major causes of deafness and hearing impairment
Major causes include:

  • congenital or early onset childhood hearing loss
  • chronic otitis media: chronic middle ear infection
  • noise induced hearing loss
  • presbyacusis: hearing impairment associated with ageing.
  • ototoxic drugs: drugs that damage the inner ear

Up to now, WHO has convened meetings of experts to address some of these major causes, commissioned a review of treatment options for chronic suppurative otitis media, and produced guidelines on how to deal with noise in the community and in the workplace.

WHO guidelines recommend behind-the-ear hearing aids but also body-worn aids like this

Secondary and tertiary prevention

Eliminating or reducing the effects of deafness and hearing impairment
Early identification followed by prompt and appropriate management can effectively reduce the impact of deafness and hearing loss on the life of an individual. WHO has developed training resources to enable health workers to prevent, detect and manage ear and hearing disorders.

Neonatal and Infant hearing screening programmes are an effective strategy for early intervention in cases of congenital and early onset hearing loss. WHO held a meeting to discuss the various aspects of 'Neonatal and Infant hearing screening' in 2009. The report of this meeting with guiding principles for action provides was published by WHO and is available online. (see below).

The initiative for affordable hearing aids and services in developing countries began in 1998 with a joint workshop with Christoffel-Blindenmission (Christian Blind Mission CBM) on needs and technology assessment, which led to the production of the WHO Guidelines for Hearing Aids and Services for Developing Countries (see below).