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WHO: Over 1b youths at risk of hearing loss

By Zhong Nan | | Updated: 2021-03-03 10:09
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A hearing professional is fitting a hearing aid in Sonova Real Life Lab in Stafa, Switzerland, in 2019. [Photo provided to]

The World Health Organization estimated that over a billion young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the common practice of listening to loud music for prolonged periods, according to its latest report released on Wednesday.

The Geneva-headquartered organization assessed that nearly 6 percent, or over 460 million of the population, experiences a moderate or higher degree of hearing loss, also termed as disabling hearing loss, according to its World Report on Hearing "Hearing Care for All: Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate", the first of its kind, launched by the WHO on World Hearing Day on Wednesday.

According to the report, an estimated 60 percent of hearing loss in children can be avoided through public health measures. Action is urgently required to address these causes to curtail the growing need for ear and hearing care in the coming decades.

The study found that the vast majority of those with such hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries where policies, human resources, infrastructure and awareness required to address hearing loss are commonly lacking.

Zhang Tianjiao, a young dancer with profound hearing loss from Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, was invited as a WHO World Hearing Forum Champion, said she is honored to contribute to helping raise awareness of the need to prevent and treat hearing loss by getting involved with the WHO World Hearing Forum.

"I was diagnosed with hearing loss since my childhood," she said. "I had a deep understanding about how good hearing and communication are important."

She hopes more people can raise their awareness of hearing loss and how innovative hearing solutions are helping people to live a life without limitations through her personal experience.

Even as a teenager, Zhang, with the help of advanced hearing aids, won a number of prizes at national and international competitions.

Zhang now appears with a range of professional dance troupes and since 2019, she has been offering ballet tuition to girls with and without hearing loss in her own workshop series in Shanghai supported by Swiss hearing provider Sonova Holding AG.

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