By Robin Youngs, MD FRCS, Honorary Associate Professor, International Centre for Evidence in Disability, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Celebrated every year on 3 March, World Hearing Day (WHD) raises awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and to promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for the WHD in 2021 was: Hearing care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate.
The aim of WHD is to provide key messages to both policy makers and the general public. Policy makers should appreciate that the number of people living with unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases is unacceptable and that governments must act to integrate person-centred ear and hearing care within national health plans for universal health coverage. The general public should understand that good hearing and communication are important at all stages of life, and that hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be avoided through preventative actions such as: protection against loud sounds; good ear care practices and immunisation.
Awareness rally in Kathmandu on World Hearing Day.
In 2021, WHD had particular significance in that it marked the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing (WRH). This was developed in response to the World Health Assembly resolution, adopted in 2017 as a means of providing guidance for Member States to integrate ear and hearing care into their national health plans.
This year, WHD was well supported around the world, with more than 700 events and activities from 108 countries being registered. All registered promotional activities were deemed part of the WRH Hear-a-thon, ensuring that the combination of local activities and events around the world resulted in a continual stream of promotional activity for the report over the 24-hour period of the World Hearing Day 2021. This was achieved by activities being posted on the WRH Facebook group and other social media channels at 2pm local time, regardless of time-zone. As examples of WHD activities, The International Centre for Evidence in Disability in London hosted a webinar with presentations on The Public Health Approach to Ear and Hearing Care and The Burden of Otitis Media. The Society of Otolaryngologists of Nepal organised an awareness rally jointly with the Speech and Hearing Association of Nepal, Ear Care Nepal, ENT Department Tribhuvan University and Impact Nepal.
The World Health Organisation WHD site - www.who.int/campaigns/world-hearing-day/2021
World Report on Hearing - www.who.int/activities/highlighting-priorities-for-ear-and-hearing-care
The ICED webpage with recorded presentations - www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/events/world-hearing-day
To promote and support action during World Hearing Day, WHO in collaboration with the Coalition for Global Hearing Health, awarded 50 small grants to partners from all over the world, intended to cover expenses related to World Hearing Day activities. We got in touch with a few of the recipients to find out what these activities included…
Hearing Health Rwanda
Kaitesi Mukara, Rwanda
Hearing Health Rwanda in partnership with Rwanda ENT Society and the Ministry of Health marked WHD 2021 through social media and the press. Diverse issues regarding ear and hearing care were discussed for five consecutive days leading to 3 March on a local TV. The highlight was a stakeholders meeting that was very well attended.
Dr Kaitesi and journalist in the TV studio on D4.
South African EHC WHF Influencers
Bianca Birdsey, South Africa
The South African members of the World Hearing Forum chose to collaborate with South African stakeholders in Ear and Hearing Care to create an influencers group to promote the messages of the World Report on Hearing. Twenty-six stakeholders representing clinical ENT and other professional bodies in ear and hearing care, rehabilitation professionals, user groups, parent groups and advocacy groups agreed to this alliance. A national champion, the Ndlovu Youth Choir committed to assist with the amplification of the messages as well as participate in the WHO panel event.
Ndlovu Youth Choir.
WHO CC INO-19
Ronny Suwento, Indonesia
Jakarta WHO Collaborating Center in cooperation with Indonesian Society of ORL-HNS organised WHD 2021 virtual activities in Indonesia: a survey on Hearing Health public attitudes, radio/television talkshows, an Advocacy Seminar by inviting Dr Patanjali Nayar (WHO-SEARO), poster & video competition, a hearing aid/cochlear implant webinar, and Instagram Live. WHO, WHF and CGHH assisted the activities through Small Grant Awards as the centre was selected as one of the best programmes.
International Federation of Hard of Hearing Young People
Bowen Tang, Canada
IFHOHYP had the pleasure of hosting a webinar, ‘Remembering, Reimagining, Rebuilding: Life after late deafness’ featuring speakers from the US, the UK, and the Philippines to discuss the vital importance of peer support as an essential rehabilitation process for people with hearing loss in addition to receiving professional support from hearing healthcare professionals.
Better Hearing Philippines, Inc
Hubert Ramos, Philippines
Better Hearing Philippines, Inc. facilitated the simultaneous release of a hearing health advocacy campaign via social media which was complemented by the launch of a nationwide directory of public and private hearing health providers (130 or 98%) in the country. Looking at the impact of social media activities initiated by stakeholders and BHPI, there were hundreds of directory views with a 200% increase in engagements compared to average posts. BHPI continues to successfully provide accessible ear and hearing healthcare to Filipinos.
Nonno Ascoltami! - Udito Italia Onlus
Valentina Faricelli, Italy
Nonno Ascoltami! - Udito Italia Onlus launched a leading campaign to raise awareness on hearing disorders. It was an incredible two-day online event (2-3 March) to celebrate World Hearing Day simultaneously with over 100 countries, and to formalise the launch of the World Hearing Report, linking with doctors, institutions, associations, families, and stories for a unique event on hearing loss prevention.