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3 March 2021 | Comment | Article by Shelley Ikram

World Hearing Day 2021

World Hearing Day takes place on 3 March every year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss, and promote ear and hearing care across the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) organises an annual world hearing event and decides a theme for this each year. This year, the theme of World Hearing Day 2021 is: Hearing care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate. This year, World Hearing Day on 3 March 2021 will mark the launch of the first-ever world report on hearing.

WHO develops educational materials such as brochures, flyers, posters, banners and presentations among others which are then shared between partners among government and civil society across the globe. These are made freely available in several different languages. Find out more about the WHO annual event.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesu, Director General of WHO for World Hearing Day has previously stated that “Around the world, one billion people are at risk of developing hearing loss due to their every day listening habits.” Whilst “450 million people already have disabling hearing loss.” The vast majority of these people do not have access to the services and products that could assist them. Dr Ghebreyesu has also stated that WHO is working to ensure that hearing care is a fundamental part of universal health coverage, and fully integrated with national health systems.

The report has been developed with the main aim to provide evidence-based guidance to drive policy actions for integration of ear and hearing care into national health policies, as part of universal health coverage.

The International Journal of Audiology has described this report as a “landmark event in global hearing health that we can celebrate with colleagues, and especially those living with hearing loss and deafness around the globe.” The report sets an important global agenda to bring ear and hearing care to the forefront of policy makers, public health officials and governments.

This is a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course. The key messages of World Hearing Day 2021 target:

Policy makers

  • The number of people living with unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases is unacceptable
  • Timely action is needed to prevent and address hearing loss across the life course
  • Investing in cost effective interventions will benefit people with hearing loss and bring financial gains to the society
  • Integrate person-centred ear and hearing care within national health plans for universal health coverage

General public

  • Good hearing and communication are important at all stages of life
  • Hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be avoided through preventative actions such as: protection against loud sounds; good ear care practices and immunization
  • Hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be addressed when it is identified in a timely manner and appropriate care sought
  • People at risk of hearing loss should check their hearing regularly
  • People having hearing loss (or related ear diseases) should seek care from a health care provider

A social media Hear-A-Thon will be taking place over the 24-hour period of 3 March to showcase the activities and events being delivered around the world to promote the World Report on Hearing. WHO are encouraging anyone who wishes to participate in the Hear-A-Thon to share their report related promotional activity on the Facebook Group, alongside your own social media channels at 2pm local time. This will ensure collective visibility of report related activity across the World hearing day 24-hour period. People are encouraged to include the hashtags:

  • #hearathon2021
  • #worldhearingday
  • #hearingcare
  • #safelistening

World Hearing Day is an opportunity to educate ourselves with the facts and statistics surrounding hearing loss and tinnitus in the UK, and contemplate the issues and difficulties that individuals suffering with hearing loss face on a daily basis. An estimated 900,000 people in the UK suffer with severe or profound hearing loss. This coupled with the adverse effects hearing loss has on the quality of life of both an individual and their families or colleagues is concerning. Noise creates stress, interferes with communication and acts as a distraction. Sufferers may feel stigmatised, alienated and isolated from their social circles, and unhappy at work. Individuals with hearing loss are likely to be more vulnerable to accidents and find the job harder, leading to reduced productivity and affect their income.

Hugh James welcomes World Hearing Day as an event in which our client’s voices should be heard and the treatment and support they should be receiving, acknowledged.

Hugh James provides specialist legal services to current and ex-military personnel suffering with hearing loss as a result of hearing damage caused by a failure to provide adequate ear protection against noise from:

  • gun and artillery fire
  • mortars
  • explosions
  • pyrotechnics
  • aircraft noise
  • vehicle engine noise

If your hearing problems are due to long-term exposure to excessive noise whilst in service, you might be entitled to compensation. NIHL and tinnitus caused by military equipment can be debilitating and can affect all aspects of life – yet they are avoidable. In military circles, people have known about them for decades, but many sufferers prefer to remain silent, often out of loyalty towards their regiment or the MoD. Or perhaps they feel responsible, as it was their choice to enlist, or maybe they don’t want to admit to suffering from hearing loss.

An estimated 300,000[1] ex-armed forces personnel in the UK suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus. When speaking to our clients who have suffered hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of exposure to excessive noise in the armed forces, we often find that they are not always aware of the extent of their hearing loss until they leave service and return to a quieter environment.

We also find that some of our clients also face difficulties in accessing certain types of civilian employment. For example, their hearing loss may prevent them from accessing the jobs where a hearing test is required as part of a routine medical. Unfortunately for many service personnel, this may have already occurred if they were discharged from the Armed Forced because of their hearing loss.

Hearing loss is often referred to as a ‘hidden disability’, but when the effects of hearing loss begin to prevent you from accessing the labour market and enjoying certain social situations, it can no longer remain hidden and is very much a harsh reality.

Any hearing loss is worth investigating, and events such as World Hearing Day are a great way to encourage people to seek help and support. If you are a serving member of the armed forces or ex-military personnel and suffer from an injury or illness as a result of service, such as noise hearing loss, and have either been medically discharged or you or members of your family have noticed symptoms of hearing loss, you may wish to obtain legal advice in relation to making a civil claim.

If you’ve suffered hearing damage during your time in service – past or present – our team is ready to listen. Get in touch with our specialist Military Team today. We can help you take the next steps in investigating whether you have a civil claim for your injuries. Our initial advice is free, and we could even represent you on a no win, no fee basis.

[1] The Royal British Legion Lost Voices Report 2014

Key contact

Simon Ellis is a Partner with Hugh James and has worked with the firm for more than 25 years, having trained and qualified here. Simon heads up the Military Department, advising and assisting current and former military personnel with various health conditions and injuries. He specialises in claims such as hearing loss, non-freezing cold injuries, compartment syndrome and military injury cases. He is often asked to advise on more unusual claims in the military context.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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