Hearing for All a worldwide action

IFOS represents all ENT specialists around the world. Its mission statement is “To identify critical global ORL care needs and communication disorders, to propose ways to prevent and treat individuals with them and to set priorities among these needs according to their impact on society”. As such IFOS is as NGO also responsible for hearing impairment and Deafness.

IFOS has been active to raise awareness in the seventies and nineties of last century. As a result a Resolution 48.9 on Prevention of Hearing impairment was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 1995. In this declaration the main lines are established. "Concerned at the growing problem largely preventable hearing impairment in the World, WHO urges member states to prepare national plans for the prevention and control of major causes of avoidable hearing loss within the framework of Primary Health Care and to develop further collaboration with non governmental organizations (NGO's).

However a worldwide action for this most occurring handicap (10% of the world population) is not organized. Hearing is essential for human life and it is time for this worldwide action. If no prevention will be done we will see 12% of world population with hearing problems. Hearing Loss and Deafness has a direct affect on the first two millennium goals set by the United Nations; poverty and education. This handicap is not yet mentioned in programs within International Organizations such as WHO.

IFOS will take the initiative for a worldwide action called “Hearing for All”. The strategy is developed with the RAND Corporation. A mission statement is made, tasks have been developed and contacts are starting. It has already the support of our biggest countries and awareness has been created within the World Bank and the WHO.

We would like to ask your support for this initiative. To enable you to decide and fully understand the initiative we suggest that you read the mission statement which can be found in the navigation bar at the left. You can show your support by filling out the support form and returning the form to the IFOS Secretariat. The form can be found in the navigation bar at the left.

Gradually the member societies start to send in names and follow with initiatives in line with the strategy of the worldwide action. We succeeded to get a paragraph about prevention of hearing impairment and deafness in the final text of the Global Vaccination Program which states the following: "Moreover, beyond infancy, children, adolescents and adults do not yet fully benefit from the protection provided through immunization against diseases affecting them. For example, diseases such as measles, rubella and meningitis can cause deafness, hearing loss and other permanent disabilities which can only be prevented by immunization. These disabilities have a direct impact on efforts to meet the MDGs on poverty reduction (MDG1) and primary education (MDG2)".

This can help us when we are going to approach the governments. With WHO more actions in the field of prevention of infectious diseases are prepared. In the worldwide Action on Aging of WHO, surprisingly no attention is paid to hearing impairment and deafness. We agreed to organize an expert meeting in order to come to a plan of action which can be integrated in the worldwide Action on Aging. We are still searching for the financial support.

In the meantime other International Organizations are approached, because awareness is lacking. When we are going to approach governments we need a well organized network around the world. IFOS is preparing different products to raise awareness and will offer assistance according the strategy. Funds have to be found to coordinate the action but most of the actions will be done locally.

In the developing countries we have two main goals for prevention
1. stimulation of awareness
2. integration of primary ear care in primary health care

In Asia progress is made in countries as;
• India contact person; Dr. Agarwal
• Bangladesh contact person; Dr. Allaudin
• Thailand contact person; Dr. Prasansuk
• Indonesia contact person; Dr. Hendarto
With the overall help of Dr. Suzuki from Japan

We need more initiatives and more financial support, we need to control and stimulate the status of vaccination. In Africa, with the help of more people and the coordination of Dr. Bolajoko O. Olusanya we will stimulate these goals and find money via the projects of the donor countries. Especially the vaccination of rubella, measles, meningitis has to be stimulated in the different countries. I am working in the international organizations to have more awareness.

Millennium Goal Primary Education (MDGII) is stimulated via the Action “Education for All” Fast Track Initiative (FTI) with huge funds. How can primary education for all be achieved if so many children cannot attend proper education because of Hearing Impairment but there is no awareness we will act on that.

In the developed countries our goals will be
1. stimulation of awareness
2. noise control
3. Hearing aids

Also in developed countries there is a lack of awareness. Especially the adolescent are at risk with the exposure to increasing noise volumes. It is not acceptable that in developed countries only 1 in every 3/5 elderly persons who need a hearing aid has a hearing aid. In this century of communication it is unacceptable that people with hearing impairment have more unemployment, earn less money and so many elderly do not belong to society.

For the different countries we have developed screening tests for adults, adolescents and children and a test in the industry. We need funds to translate these tests in different languages. These tests have proven to be a good tool to increase awareness.

A lot of work has to be done for the urgent prevention. Please join us. We thank you in advance for your support of the Hearing for All initiative.

Jan J. Grote
General Secretary