May 30th, 2017—(Innsbruck, Austria)—A new resolution to tackle the devastating impact of hearing loss worldwide has today been adopted by the World Health Assembly, in Geneva. Globally, 360 million people (around 5% of the world’s population) live with disabling hearing loss yet it has consistently remained absent from the global health agenda.1 MED-EL, a leading manufacturer of hearing implants, is now calling for urgent action to address one of the most challenging health and social issues facing society today.
The impact of hearing loss goes far beyond limiting communication for an individual, but can affect someone’s education, livelihood, social well-being and economic independence. New research has also linked the condition to a range of other health issues such as cognitive decline, depression and dementia – one of largest predicted health burdens of the next decade. The social and economic impact is so significant that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the annual cost of unaddressed hearing loss to be between $750–790 billion globally.
However, most causes of hearing loss are avoidable and interventions that are currently available are both successful and cost-effective. This includes hearing aids and hearing implants, devices that can restore the sense of sound in people with even severe or profound hearing loss.
As a company that focuses on developing innovative hearing technologies such as cochlear implants, MED-EL has been working together with all relevant stakeholders globally to ensure the availability and broad access to innovative hearing solutions.
Ingeborg Hochmair, CEO of MED-EL and co-inventor of the first micro-electronic and multi-channel cochlear implant, commented, “As a company built around the ambition to help people overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication, I am hugely proud that we were able to contribute to this ground-breaking achievement on hearing loss. Through this and our many other awareness and access initiatives, we are demonstrating our commitment to drive global action on hearing loss worldwide.”
As a first step to driving action on the new resolution, MED-EL sponsored a roundtable, hosted by the HEARRING group, in Geneva on 23 May during the week of the World Health Assembly. Representatives of several organisations, including WHO member countries, gathered to explore further the link between a global ageing population and how to tackle the increasing prevalence of hearing loss. Attendees discussed how effective treatments for hearing loss, including hearing implants, can help keep global healthcare systems sustainable and gathered recommendations for how to improve diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and care for people with hearing loss globally.
For more information on MED-EL and the company’s commitment to reducing the burden of hearing loss worldwide, visit www.medel.com.
About the World Health Assembly 2017*
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.
*Source: World Health Organization
About hearing loss
Over 5% of the world’s population – 360 million people – are living with disabling hearing loss (328 million adults and 32 million children).2 Approximately one-third of people over the age of 65 are affected by disabling hearing loss.2 The World Health Organization recommends a range of interventions to improve communication once hearing loss has occurred, including hearing implants.2
Austria-based MED-EL Medical Electronics is a leading provider of hearing implant systems with 30 subsidiaries worldwide. The family-owned business is one of the pioneers in the industry. The two Austrian scientists Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair developed the world’s first microelectronic-multichannel cochlear implant, now considered the modern cochlear implant, which was implanted in 1977. The cochlear implant was and remains the first replacement of a human sense: the sense of hearing. In 1990, the Hochmairs laid the foundation for the successful growth of the company when they hired their first employees. To date, the company has grown to more than 1,800 employees around the world.
MED-EL offers the widest range of implantable solutions worldwide to treat various degrees of hearing loss: cochlear and middle ear implant systems, EAS (combined Electric Acoustic Stimulation) hearing implant system and auditory brainstem implants as well as the world´s first active bone conduction implant. In 2017, MED-EL launched ADHEAR, a novel non-surgical bone conduction system, further expanding the number of people who can benefit from innovative hearing technology and reinforcing MED-EL’s mission to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication. People in more than 115 countries enjoy the gift of hearing with the help of a product from MED-EL. www.medel.com
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1 World Health Organization. Development of a new Health Assembly resolution and action plan for prevention of deafness and hearing loss. Available at: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/EB139/B139_5-en.pdf?ua=1. Last accessed: May 2017.
2 World Health Organization. Deafness and hearing loss factsheet. Available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs300/en/. Last accessed May 2017.