World Hearing Day a reminder to Government about the need to invest in hearing care – Chime

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Chime, the National Charity for Deafness and Hearing Loss is marking World Hearing Day 2021 which takes place today (03.03.21) with a warning to the Government that it needs to act now to invest in hearing and ear care, with over 20,000 people currently on waiting lists.

The charity has warned that HSE audiology waiting lists are increasing significantly with over 20,000 people waiting for an appointment. In some cases, individuals are waiting up to three years for an appointment. Additionally, the charity states eight per cent of the adult population need audiological support– that is 300,000 adults in Ireland – but only one in five are receiving support.

Government response 

Commenting today, Head of Advocacy at Chime Brendan Lennon, said: “Our message to the Government on World Hearing Day 2021 is that it needs to act now and invest in hearing and ear care. Ireland has a serious problem with high levels of unaddressed hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most common health condition in adults, and the most common amongst older people. More and more people are experiencing hearing difficulties and investment in early intervention can help address this.

“Chime is calling on the Government to prioritise the provision of universal hearing and ear care for all our citizens. The World Health Organisation has stated that for every euro invested in hearing and ear care there is a return of almost sixteen euro over 10 years. The Government needs to implement measures to tackle the long waiting lists and ramp up the level of hearing aids being prescribed – currently Ireland prescribes hearing aids at less than half the rate of the UK.

“Unaddressed hearing loss has long-lasting and damaging effects on both the individual and society. It can lead to increased rates of depression, higher rates of dementia and increased hospitalisation figures. By being proactive and adopting a universal approach to hearing and ear care the Government can help prevent this.”

Public awareness

Chime is also calling on the public to be more mindful of the need to be proactive about their own hearing and ear care.

Brendan Lennon added: “There needs to be a sea-change in Irish society in how we view going for a hearing test. We need to attach the same level of importance to getting your hearing checked as we do to getting a blood pressure test with your doctor. Leaving hearing loss unaddressed means you are exposing yourself to significant health risks and a further worsening hearing condition. Most of all, you are missing out on having a better quality of life – more than 80 per cent of hearing aid users say the aids improve their relationships and social life. 

“Attending a hearing test is the best possible way to detect any difficulties at an early stage. Chime would strongly encourage members of the public who suspect they are suffering from hearing difficulties to book in for a hearing test. Like most health conditions early intervention results in better outcomes for individuals.

“If you noticed you were struggling to read the newspaper you would not hesitate in booking an eye test. If you are struggling to hear conversations, you should also not hesitate in booking a hearing test”.

World Hearing Day 2021

The theme for World Hearing Day 2021 is ‘Hearing care for ALL’. The annual campaign is run by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the aim of preventing hearing loss and promoting access to hearing care.

The WHO is calling on governments to adopt a universal health approach to hearing loss for citizens, this is something which is not in place in Ireland and Chime says must change.

Brendan Lennon added: “A strong message the Government can send this World Hearing Day is that it will commit to adopting a universal approach to hearing and ear care. The WHO has advised that this is the most effective way for governments to tackle unaddressed hearing loss and to provide the necessary early intervention which is critical in supporting those who are deaf and hard of hearing. Chime is ready, willing, and able to meet with Government representatives to agree such an approach.”

The WHO warns that by 2050 one in five people globally will suffer from some form of hearing loss, which equates to 236 million people in Europe. The WHO has published a report ‘World Report on Hearing’ which outlines the steps governments can take to promote access to effective hearing care and early intervention.

Chime are encouraging any person with hearing loss who needs support to reach out for assistance. Chime’s support line can be contacted on 1800 256 257, email: [email protected], or text 087 922 1046.

For more information about Chime visit www.chime.ie. The WHO report can also be viewed on the Chime website.

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