World Hearing Day Observance

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The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) annually observes World Hearing Day (WHD) on 3 March. The theme for this year’s observance is Changing Mindsets: Let’s make Ear and Hearing Care a Reality.

Research shows that globally, the prevalence of hearing loss will rise considerably in coming decades due to changing population demographics, increasing exposure to risk factors such as recreational noise, as well as persistence of untreated ear conditions such as otitis media or infection of the middle ear. Many    causes    of hearing    Loss    can     be     prevented     through     public     health measures, rehabilitation, sensitization and empowering people with hearing loss to reach their full potential. Raising awareness and improving access to services at the Primary Care level can help reduce the prevalence and adverse impact on hearing loss.

World Hearing Day is the largest global awareness campaign on Ear and Hearing Care that calls for action to address hearing loss. Its aims are as follows:

  • To promote public health actions for Ear and Hearing Care
  • Stimulate intersectoral partnership for Ear and Hearing Care
  • Raise awareness on Hearing Loss at national and community levels across the world
  • Encourage behavior change towards healthy Ear and Hearing Care practices.

The focus this year is on overcoming the challenges posed by societal misconceptions and stigmatizing mindset through raising awareness and sharing information, targeted at the public and health care providers. Ensuring access to ear and hearing care services to all who need it, as an essential service.

This year WHO calls for action from governments, industry partners and civil society to act, recognizing that:

  1. Globally over 80% of Ear and Hearing Care needs remain unmet.
  2. Unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual cost of nearly US $ 1 trillion globally.
  3. Deeply ingrained societal misconceptions and stigmatizing mindsets are key factors that limit efforts for preventing and addressing Hearing Loss.

 

  1. Changing mindsets related to Ear and Hearing Care is crucial to improving access and mitigating the cost of unaddressed Hearing Loss.

Disabling Hearing Loss is defined by WHO as hearing loss greater than 35 decibels hearing level in the better ear.

Normal Hearing is a hearing level of less than 25 decibels in both ears.

WHO reports that millions of people across the world live with disabling Hearing Loss. There are also hundreds of millions of people at risk for hearing damage due to noise- induced hearing loss from recreational and industrial noise.

Hearing Services are available free of cost at two main Wellness Centers, Entrepot Wellness Center and Vieux-Fort Wellness Center.

Reports from the above facilities for the period 2023 revealed that:

In 2023 a total of 943 persons were diagnosed with hearing loss of which 602 persons or 63% had disabling hearing loss.

In light of our growing numbers of hearing impairments the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, will commemorate World Hearing Day under the following activities:

  1. Hearing assessments and hearing screenings at noise prone establishments and schools
  2. Conduct hearing screening for Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs staff on March 13th, 2024
  3. Presentation on the impact of noise on hearing with noise prone establishment on March 14th, 2024
  4. Training of Health Care Workers on the revised primary Ear and Health Care Manual developed and launched by WHO/PAHO in 2023 in order for health care workers to recognise and manage ear disease and hearing loss as early as possible.

We pledge our support to improving Ear and Hearing Care in Saint Lucia by Building Capacity in Ear and earing, procuring the relevant equipment and supplies for effective and efficient services.

Under the Golden 80 plus Health Care package presently being offered at our health facilities, Individuals 80 years and older are encouraged to have an ear exam yearly.

Saint Lucians play your part by protecting your ears and hearing for life . Listen with care, make ear care a priority this year and join the Ministry of Health to Change Mindsets: Make Ear and Hearing A Reality for ALL.

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