Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Training for hearing care providers

Mahmood F Bhutta, Xingkuan Bu, Patricia Castellanos de Muñoz, Suneela Garg & Kelvin Kong

The lack of an appropriately trained global hearing-care workforce is recognized as a barrier to developing and implementing services to treat ear and hearing disorders. In this article we examine some of the published literature on the current global workforce for ear and hearing care. We outline the status of both the primary-care workforce, including community health workers, and specialist services, including audiologists, ear, nose and throat specialists, speech and language therapists, and teachers of the deaf. We discuss models of training health workers in ear and hearing care, including the role of task-sharing and the challenges of training in low and middle-income countries. We structure the article by the components of ear and hearing care that may be delivered in isolation or in integrated models of care: primary care assessment and intervention; screening; hearing tests; hearing rehabilitation; middle-ear surgery; deaf services; and cochlear implant programmes. We highlight important knowledge gaps and areas for future research and reporting.