International Ear and Hearing Day 2014 – Ear care can avoid hearing loss

On 3 March, the WHO’s ‘International ear care day’ focuses on the theme ‘Ear care can avoid hearing loss’. On this day, as a partner organisation, CBM aims to raise awareness about hearing loss and outline the possibilities for prevention through appropriate ear care.

Ear care can avoid hearing loss

This year, the theme chosen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for “International Ear Care Day” on 3rd March 2014 is “Ear care can avoid hearing loss”. This initiative, promoted and supported by organisations like CBM, aims to address the lack of awareness regarding the possibilities for prevention of hearing loss through ear care measures.
WHO has prepared informative materials on Ear care. These include leaflets, posters and banners in English, Spanish and French. They are very useful for anyone wishing to contribute to raise awareness on Ear and Hearing Care (EHC), not only on this special day but throughout the whole year.

Global burden and main causes of hearing loss

Globally, hearing loss is the most prevalent sensory disability and is increasing rapidly, especially among ageing people. For this reason, CBM wishes to actively support and promote this awareness raising initiative, by inviting all CBM workers, partners and friends, to find out about and share practical ways to avoid hearing loss through basic ear care. To effectively contribute to this effort, we first need to provide some background about the main causes of hearing loss and explain CBM’s understanding of “ear care”, in its widest sense.
The causes leading to deafness and hearing loss are many, including hereditary factors, congenital infections (especially maternal Rubella, Syphilis and Cytomegalovirus), birth problems (such as low birth weight, prematurity and Hypoxia), ageing (Presbyacusis), excessive noise exposure, effects of ototoxic medications and chemicals, and infectious diseases (Meningitis, Malaria, Measles, Mumps, Toxoplasmosis, Typhoid, Varicella (Chicken pox), etc). Impacted wax can affect any population age group and is probably the most common cause of mild to moderate hearing loss. Chronic Otitis Media (long-lasting infections of the middle ear) is a cause of primary concern in low and middle income countries and the most common cause of mild to moderate hearing loss in children in these countries. Otitis Media with effusion and head trauma are also common, especially in children and may lead to permanent hearing impairment. Nutritional deficiencies such as lack of iodine in the diet cause hearing loss in some poorer parts of the world.

CBM’s understanding of how ear care can avoid hearing loss

CBM is committed to improving the quality of life of people living with, or at risk of, hearing loss and ear diseases, by acting at all levels of intervention: prevention, early identification, early intervention, rehabilitation (or habilitation for persons with congenital hearing disability) and inclusion. CBM works through its partners in the field, through international alliances and through careful planning, fundraising and direction at its headquarters, regional offices and member associations.
Despite the diversity amongst the actors involved and the sheer magnitude of the challenge faced, CBM recognises two different but effective routes to “avoid” hearing loss through “ear care”. The first route is directly linked to health care, either by developing comprehensive public health programmes or by the individual direct intervention of one person over his/her health. The second route takes into consideration a mid to long-term approach to help changing attitudes and perceptions amongst professionals, policy makers and the general population. For the purpose of this article, we will concentrate on the first route, which aligns with the focus for this year’s theme.
Whether you work for a programme in the community or within the health service, you collaborate with a national or international organisation, you are involved in planning or policy development, or you are simply interested in ear and hearing, there is plenty to be done to help improve the quality of life of persons living with ear disease and/or hearing loss in the world. Together we can do more!

Why March 3rd?

The choice of the date 3 March is due to the shape of the numbers in 3.3, being representative of the two ears.

In April 2007, the China Rehabilitation Research Center for Deaf Children (CRRCDC), China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF) and WHO jointly hosted the First International Conference on Prevention and Rehabilitation of Hearing Impairment in Beijing. A key outcome of this conference was the “Beijing Declaration”, among its key recommendations was the establishment of “International Ear Care Day”. International Ear Care Day aimed to further promote global actions on hearing care and minimise the occurrence of hearing impairment.

Every year, “International Ear Care Day” addresses a specific theme and carries out an extensive range of activities with a wide multi-sector participation in order to raise awareness of hearing care and the prevention of hearing loss. This day has been observed and supported by partner organisations all over the world.

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