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Untreated hearing loss costs millions of euros every year

Untreated hearing loss costs millions of euros every year

2013. 04. 11.

During the high-level breakfast debate yesterday morning, representatives of the Irish Presidency, the European Commission, MEPs, experts and NGOs met to discuss how hearing loss is a "silent killer" of productivity and social inclusion and to advocate a comprehensive, effective, practical and affordable European policy based on the principle of personal connectivity.

In his speech MEP Ádám Kósa highlighted: "According to the World Health Organisation hearing impairment is the biggest invisible disability in the world. Approximately 10% of the world’s population, including 50 million Europeans and one million Hungarians are affected. However most of these people are not aware or treat their disability." Søren Hougaard, Secretary-General of EHIMA further stated: "The costs of untreated hearing loss within the EU are huge and investment in better hearing will ensure great savings and social benefits.”

Lidia Smolarek-Best (EFHOH) spoke about the differences within the EU in terms of provisions for hearing aids and the quality of life that people with hearing loss could enjoy. The need for mainstreaming services including access to media, employment and the social implications for a growing number of people who lose their hearing in later life was also presented. "A new social norm is needed based on the principle of staying connected, where people with hearing problems keep their own connections strong and constant with routine hearing checks and the use of hearing technology. Society is made connectable to deaf people by providing for their other senses" – stressed Mr Curtis Alcock from Audira.

Gary Norman, on behalf of the Irish Presidency, representing the Irish National Clinical Lead for Audiology, joined the participants via a phone-conference. Dr Norman presented, from a national perspective, the development of audiology in Ireland. After many years of hard work, Ireland has become a leading example in the European Union with a high quality, safe, effective and efficient action plan and service for audiology.

On behalf of the European Commission, Dr. Grigorij Kogan Scientific Program Researcher presented the outcomes of the last six years' research on hearing loss in DG Research and Innovation. It transpires that in Europe untreated hearing loss is estimated to cost some 213 million euros a year. The Commission has therefore been setting up different projects and has spent more than 61 million euros for transnational research on hearing loss in order to contribute to the information, research and rehabilitation of people with hearing problems and to keep them in the labour market.

"It is of utmost importance that people are informed about hearing impairment related issues and facts, and that they are able to protect their hearing. If hearing loss has already occurred, people should have access to high quality rehabilitation. This has been the aim of this Hearing Awareness Week. We hope we could make many people aware of this important topic and help them to get informed about hearing, hearing loss and rehabilitation possibilities"- concluded MEP Ádám Kósa at the end of the event series.

Background: During the three days around 200 people undertook hearing tests in the European Parliament and received information about hearing and hearing loss related facts and issues. It turned out that despite a general lack of awareness relating to hearing loss and rehabilitation possibilities, the hearing ability of the people working in the European Parliament was better than the European average. This is a comforting outcome in a work environment where language and communication are paramount. Especially interpreters, whose jobs depend so much on the quality of their hearing, proved to have excellent hearing.