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Dr Harsh Vardhan releases WHO’s World Report on Hearing

by Shalini Bhardwaj

On the occasion of World hearing day the Union Health Minister Dr.Harsh Vardhan released WHO report that observed 2 % of India’s population , maily children, suffered fom the condition of Otitis Media.

“So prevalent is the condition that some people even consider it natural for a child’s ears to discharge.”

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also observed and highlighted other hearing loss related problems due to high noise levels at workplaces, on the roads, hearing loss due to the use of ototoxic medicines and chemicals, the dangers of loud music and unsafe listening to people’s hearing health (with over 750 million smart phone users in India).

He also informed audience about the study, “A multi – centric cross-sectional survey conducted as per the WHO recommended Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) sampling technique assessed 92,097 people in the community across 6 sites in India. Age-appropriate audiological testing as per WHO norms including pure tone audiometry, tympanometry, oto-acoustic emissions, behavioral observation audiometry and ENT examination were all undertaken onsite in a specially designed sound treated audiological bus.” The sample size makes this the world’s largest such study to-date.           

“The results have showed a changing profile of hearing loss in India’s population and in tune with similar changes in other countries as they move forward in economic development. The study showed that the disabling hearing loss affected 2.9% of the population and was noted to effect communication, education and work. The rural population had a far greater prevalence of hearing loss. The prevalence of total hearing loss, unilateral &bilateral was found to be as high as 9.93%. The geriatric population accounted for 40.5% of all hearing loss and 72.4% of all disabling hearing loss. The study also made a major contribution in identifying the risk factors associated with Sensory Neural Hearing Loss (SNHL): Smokeless Tobacco consumption, Heavy smoking, Leisure and work-related noise, and also excessive Residential Noise, are all noted as risk factors associated with SNHL.” states the release 

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also informed the audience that with the COVID pandemic abating in India, the government plans to further strengthen our work on ear and hearing care based on the recommendations of the report:

  • By improving services at community and primary levels through training of health workers for task sharing, in line with the strategies outlined in the report.
  • Expanding access to affordable hearing technologies for all those in need.
  • Using the power of Information Technology (IT) to raise awareness among our youth on safe listening as a means of hearing loss prevention.

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