Prevention of blindness and deafness

World Hearing Day: 3 March

World Hearing Day is an annual advocacy event which aims to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for the World Hearing Day 2017 is ‘Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment’.


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.

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

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.

Make Listening Safe

WHO estimates that 1.1 billion young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Concerned at the increasing risks posed by exposure to loud sounds from the unsafe use of personal audio devices such as smartphones and MP3 players and noisy entertainment venues including nightclubs, bars and sporting events, WHO launched the Make Listening Safe initiative on 3 March 2015.

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

360 millionpeople live with disabling hearing loss

Global data on hearing loss

Safe listening

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

Make Listening Safe

Childhood hearing loss

>60%of childhood hearing loss is preventable

Childhood hearing loss


Recent events

  • 7 July 2016

    WHO Stakeholders’ Consultation on prevention of deafness and hearing loss

    A Stakeholders’ meeting for the WHO programme on prevention of deafness and hearing loss was organized at WHO headquarters on 6-7 July 2016. Ear and hearing care professionals; professional bodies; NGOs; representatives of hard of hearing persons; WHO Collaborating Centres; academic institutions; manufacturers of hearing devices and researchers in the field of hearing met and discussed ways to promote global action on hearing loss, including through World Hearing Day. As an outcome, the group has proposed and initiated the development of a global plan of action with the aim to make ear and hearing care accessible for all.

  • 5 July 2016

    Technical meetings on hearing loss

    An ad hoc consultation on national strategies and indicators for hearing loss was held on 4-5 July. Experts from across the world worked to lay out the structure for two proposed technical documents, which will support Member States in planning for and monitoring ear and hearing care activities. Another ad hoc consultation on 8 July initiated the process of revision of the WHO Primary Ear and Hearing Care training resources.

  • 30 May 2016

    The 139th Executive Board discussed the issue of hearing loss. A resolution was proposed by the Russian Federation and co-sponsored by Columbia, the Dominican Republic and South Africa. Many countries from across all regions appreciated the secretariat report and supported the proposed resolution. The resolution was adopted with minor amendments and will now be tabled at the 70th World Health Assembly in May 2017.

  • 3 March 2016

    World Hearing Day

    Childhood hearing loss: act now; here is how!

Upcoming events

6-7 December 2016

Multi-country workshop on ear and hearing care in WHO Western Pacific Region in Bejing, China.

3 March 2017

World Hearing Day 2017

6-7 March 2017

WHO-ITU consultation on the Make Listening Safe initiative at WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland

Contact us

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