An estimated 135 million people in Africa have ear and hearing problems.

This situation is worrisome as nearly 80% of these people living with hearing loss are in low- and middle-income countries.

A statement to commemorate this year’s World Ear and Hearing Day by the WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said over 1.5 billion cases globally are being identified by marginalized groups thus advising governments to seek an alternative means of enhancing screening-based technology for hearing to promote service delivery.

“I urge all stakeholders to unite and act on the above recommendations, integrating ear and hearing care services into district health systems and primary health care.

“The burden of ear and hearing problems reflects significant. These numbers are rising. At the current rate, it is likely that by 2050 there could be over 338 million people affected by ear and hearing issues in Africa.

“Many people with hearing loss do not know how and where to find help or do not have access to the needed services. This greatly impacts the lives of those affected, their families, and their communities. Moreover, the excessive burden of these conditions is also due to the limited number of ear, nose, and throat specialists and audiologists available in the countries. In the African Region, nearly US$ 30 billion are lost due to the collective failure to address hearing loss adequately.

“Over 60% of the common ear diseases and hearing loss can be detected and often managed at the primary level of care. However, in most places, access to ear and hearing care continues to be limited to highly specialized centers and clinics. It is important to address these conditions across the continuum of care for people needing these services who must seek specialized services, often in distant hospitals.

“Integrating ear and hearing care into primary care services is possible through training and capacity building at this level to address the challenges. It is possible to ensure these services by training a non-specialist workforce that serves as the first point of contact for the communities. To facilitate such integration, we have launched a “Primary ear and hearing care training manual” that is intended to inform doctors, nurses, and other health workers. We have no doubt this manual will benefit people and help countries move towards the goal of universal health coverage.

“Therefore, I encourage governments to prioritize ear and hearing care health programs as part of their noncommunicable diseases and universal healthcare agendas and increase their campaign, political and financial commitment.”

World Hearing Day is celebrated every 3rd of March, this year’s theme is “Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality.” Is a call on all to prevent and address common ear and hearing problems while raising awareness of deafness and hearing loss prevention to promote ear and hearing care worldwide.

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