On 3-4 July 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) will hold the third stakeholders' meeting for its program on prevention of deafness and hearing loss at its headquarter in Geneva, Switzerland. This meeting is an opportunity for WHO member states, professional groups, non-governmental organizations, civil society, academicians, clinicians, the private sector, and United Nations agencies to come together to address global hearing loss issues.
One of the most important of the goals for the meeting is to review the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on the prevention of deafness and hearing loss that was adopted in 2017. The resolution called on national governments and stakeholders to address hearing loss by raising awareness while encouraging treatment and prevention of increasingly prevalent hearing problems, particularly in underserved regions.
A major feature of this upcoming meeting will be the exploration of strategies for a global alliance on hearing loss prevention. "An alliance would have a cohesive body of stakeholders whose main purpose is to undertake advocacy and develop networks that facilitate knowledge sharing and foster opportunities for collaboration. With strong leadership, a diverse membership and sound financial backing, such an alliance would be well positioned to drive a global initiative" wrote Shelly Chadha, PhD, Alarcos Cieza, PhD, and Etienne Krug, MD, of WHO in an editorial earlier this year (Bull World Health Organ. 2018 Mar 1; 96(3):146). Dr. Chadha is the technical officer of WHO's Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss Division.
Other objectives for this meeting include reviewing the past year's activities in implementing the WHA resolution, exploring possibilities for resource mobilization, and planning next year's World Hearing Day observance.
The meeting's organizers expressed optimism about the benefits of coordination in helping promote greater awareness of hearing health care. "Such collaborative and determined action would enable protection of the hearing for over the billion people who are at risk, as well as allowing those who experience hearing loss to achieve their potential through equitable access to the required services and rehabilitation," Chadha, et al., concluded in their editorial.
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To know more about the WHA resolution, read this editorial by Jackie Clark, PhD