The Statement, initiated by a team led by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, was reviewed by a working group of experts nominated by IAMP member academies before being endorsed first by the IAMP Statements Committee, the Executive Committee and finally the IAMP membership.
“Like all IAMP Statements, this current Statement has been thoroughly reviewed and presents the best impartial advice from our member medical academies, based on the latest evidence, that we can provide to policy-makers, whether at national or international level, as well as to healthcare providers and others in the medical and aid professions,” said IAMP co-chair Detlev Ganten.
It also builds on the work by several national academies. The Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences (IOM/NAS) in the United States, for example, convened a two-day workshop on the topic of ‘Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging’ in January 2014. The workshop discussed the public health implications of hearing loss for older adults, including the possible relationship between hearing loss and accelerated cognitive decline and dementia. The US National Academies have also produced consensus studies relating to different aspects of hearing loss, including noise and military service, and the value of research programmes. The IOM is also investigating the accessibility and affordability of hearing healthcare for adults.
Speaking at the launch of the Statement, Lai Meng Looi, the other IAMP co-chair, said: “The fact that so many of the problems associated with hearing loss are preventable means that we already have solutions in hand. In many cases, especially in low- and middle-income countries, the challenge is not just funding, but also raising awareness. That is what we hope to do by releasing this Statement. We expect now that IAMP’s 73 member academies will now present it directly to their national governments and that they will start to implement some of our recommendations.”
The Statement itself calls on governments and other healthcare providers to implement a number of improved practices, including:
• improved healthcare provision in the area of hearing loss, such as universal hearing screening in birthing centres and making hearing aids cochlear implants accessible and affordable;
• ensuring public health measures account for the causes of hearing loss;
• addressing hearing loss in both children and adults while acknowledging the differences between these groups;
• addressing broader societal needs, such as providing educational programmes for children with hearing loss, their relatives and communities; and
• establishing research and innovation programmes targeted at hearing loss priorities, including the development of novel screening and diagnostic techniques to improve the early identification of hearing loss in children and encouraging innovation to develop affordable high quality low-cost hearing aids and low-cost batteries.
“Hearing loss is a major global health challenge, but because it is often preventable and avoidable, the time has come to rally round the key areas highlighted in the IAMP Statement,” added Looi. “What is needed is a global, concerted and sustained effort to improve the lives of everyone who suffers from hearing loss. Such an effort will be worth it – not only to those who suffer directly, but also to their families, friends and wider societies.”
Peter F. McGrath
Translations have been made available by IAMP member academies