The 3rd of March marks the annual commemoration of World Hearing Day (WHD). This campaign was initiated as part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) efforts to promote healthy hearing worldwide. The theme for WHD 2023 is Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality. The WHO goals under this theme are aimed at highlighting the importance of integrating ear and hearing care within primary care, as an essential component of universal health coverage. The key messages emphasise the prevalence of hearing loss within communities, while motivating persons to work towards the early identification as 60% of cases can be identified and addressed at the primary level of care.
WHO states that the integration of ear and hearing care into primary care services is possible through training and capacity building, helping countries move towards the goal of universal health coverage.
Primary levels of care usually refer to the first point of patient care within a community. Persons with hearing loss thus need to be identified at this primary level. It is well known that there is insufficient coverage of hearing health providers at a primary level of care to reach most persons with hearing loss within communities.
Fortunately, the digital era has developed creative solutions to overcome the gap in ear and hearing care. Smartphone solutions like hearScreen® allow integration of hearing care within the community. The solution can be operated by lay persons and offer valid screening results so that the person can be linked to the appropriate care.
The need for hearing care at a primary level spans from local clinics, schools and community centres. Smartphone hearing screening solutions can be used to mitigate the challenges associated with early detection of hearing loss across these facilities.
Tools to identify ear pathology can provide added benefit to such programmes at the first point of health care. Solutions like hearScope (a digital video otoscope with AI capabilities) offer solutions to ear care at a primary health level where ear disease can be diagnosed using the latest Artificial Intelligence technology or remote diagnoses from a professional.
Although it is more common for people to seek information at primary levels of care, the work place tends to be one of the best places to approach the early identification of hearing loss.
Hearing loss in the workplace can be a secret enemy of productivity. When an employee misunderstands instructions (or is unable to hear it), an entire day of work or more can be lost. If employees struggle to communicate with one another, the strain can lead to a loss of morale, mistaken activities, and interpersonal strife. In addition to the detriments of hearing loss for the workflow, worker safety is at risk in many workplaces and industrial sites. Not hearing a warning siren or a co-worker yelling about a hazard can lead to immense risks to employees’ lives and safety, nothing to take lightly.
Hearing tests are an incredibly useful diagnostic tool. They measure a person’s hearing capacity in each ear which provides useful information about his/her hearing abilities. Taking annual hearing tests and prioritising your hearing health contributes to your quality of life. Access to a solution like hearTest Occ Health can provide hearing care in the workplace. Designed for occupational and diagnostic testing, hearTest Occ Health offers a rigid solution to detect the early signs of hearing loss at a primary level without employees having to leave the workplace or cause disruption to workplace productivity. Hearing tests can be performed by in-house personnel, which further reduces costs.