World Hearing Day takes place on 3 March each year to raise awareness of hearing loss and deafness and to promote ear and hearing care around the world.
Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) focuses on a particular theme and this year’s theme is “Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality.” As part of their focus on a different theme each year, WHO prepares materials including brochures, flyers, posters, banners, infographics and presentations to educate governments and societies around the world. An event is also held at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, with Member States hosting a range of events in their own countries.
World Hearing Day 2023 aims to highlight that hearing care is an essential part of universal health coverage and to raise awareness of the importance of integrating hearing care within primary care. WHO states that ear and hearing problems are some of the most common problems that people encounter and that over 60% of hearing problems can be identified and addressed as part of primary care. WHO considers that integrating ear and hearing care into primary care services is possible through training, and that integrating hearing care into primary care will benefit communities and help countries move towards the aim of universal health coverage.
WHO plans to launch a new training manual on World Hearing Day 2023, as well as: encouraging governments to integrate ear care into training programmes for primary healthcare providers; raising awareness within primary health care providers about the healthcare needs to those with hearing loss and ear disease and informing the public about the importance of hearing and ear care.
Supporters and stakeholders are also encouraged to advocate the need for integrating hearing care into primary care and to raise awareness in their communities about the importance of ear care and encourage those with hearing care needs to seek help.
World Hearing Day is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves with the facts and statistics surrounding hearing loss and tinnitus in the UK and recognise the issues and difficulties that individuals suffering with hearing loss face on a daily basis. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) estimates that there are 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or have hearing loss. Common symptoms associated with hearing loss including finding it hard to hear conversations in places such as pubs or restaurants, turning up the TV or radio at home, struggling to hear people on the phone, asking people to repeat things and feeling that other people are mumbling when they speak.
Hugh James welcomes World Hearing Day as an event in which our clients’ voices are heard and the treatment and support they should be receiving, acknowledged. An estimated 300,000 ex-armed forces personnel in the UK suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus. 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
- aircraft noise
- vehicle engine noise
Our clients often inform us that they struggle to hear and participate fully in conversations with their family at home, with their friends in social situations, and with their colleagues at work. This can lead to feelings of isolation and embarrassment. Those with tinnitus (usually described as a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears) may also find that their sleep is affected, leading to feelings of tiredness and irritability.
We also find that some of our clients 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 Forces because of their hearing loss.
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, but it is avoidable. In military circles, many service personnel have experienced symptoms of NIHL and tinnitus for decades, but many 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.
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 NIHL, 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.