Deafness prevention

Apple announces the Hearing Health Study which will contribute towards WHO's Make Listening Safe initiative

11 September 2019. The study that will examine how everyday sound exposure impacts the hearing health of people. The data received will improve our understanding of listening behaviors of the users of personal audio devices. With over a billion young people at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening, WHO is addressing this challenge through raising awareness and setting new standards for safe listening. The knowledge gained through this study will contribute to future public health action in this field.

World Hearing Day: 3 March

World Hearing Day is observed on 3 March as an annual advocacy event to promote hearing care. The theme for World Hearing Day 2019 is ‘Check your hearing!’

Overview of WHO’s programme for the prevention of deafness and hearing loss

A resolution on hearing loss was approved and adopted by the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva on 30th May 2017. The WHO programme for prevention of deafness and hearing loss works with the vision of a world in which no person experiences hearing loss due to preventable causes and those with unavoidable hearing loss can achieve their full potential through appropriate interventions, education and empowerment. It aims to promote ear and hearing care (EHC), integrated within the primary health care systems of its Member States.


WHO estimates that approximately 15% of the world’s adult population experience some degree (mild and above) of hearing loss. Of these, 466 million live with disabling hearing loss. Majority of those with hearing loss live in the less developed areas of the world.

Make Listening Safe initiative

WHO estimates that 1.1 billion young people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. This includes exposure to loud sounds on personal audio devices and in noisy entertainment venues. In order to address this concern, WHO has launched the Make Listening Safe initiative. This initiative aims to reduce hearing loss caused by listening to loud sounds by promoting safe listening.

World Report on Hearing

WHO has initiated work on the World report on hearing which will provide a cohesive and consistent narrative on hearing loss and ear and hearing care that is based on the best available evidence; outline the shift in the epidemiological distribution of hearing loss globally; and highlight best practices and priorities for ear and hearing care.

fact buffet

Hearing loss

466 millionpeople live with disabling hearing loss


Safe listening

>1 billionyoung people (12-35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds

Make Listening Safe

Global costs

750 billionis the overall cost of unaddressing hearing loss globally

Global costs of unaddressed hearing loss

Featured publications

Childhood hearing loss: strategies for prevention and care

WHO primary ear and hearing care training manuals

Planning for ear and hearing care

Other publications


World Hearing Day 2019

World Hearing Forum

World Health Assembly Resolution on hearing loss

Collaborating centres for hearing care

A number of academic institutions and research centres across the world, work closely with WHO as part of the WHO network of collaborating centres for hearing care.

Make Listening Safe

Upcoming events

World report on hearing

3 March 2020
At the request of the World Health Assembly, WHO is preparing the World report on hearing.

Recent events

WHO Multi-country Workshop on Ear and Hearing Care in the WHO Western-Pacific Region

Beijing, China
11-12 December 2018

WHO Multi-country Workshop on Ear and Hearing Care in the WHO European Region

Moscow, Russian Federation
16-17 October 2018

WHO Consultation on Ear and Hearing Care in the WHO South-East Asia Region

New Delhi, India
3-5 October 2018

3-4 July 2018: 3rd stakeholders meeting for the WHO programme on prevention of deafness and hearing loss; WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland

This meeting brought together 140 stakeholders in the field of ear and hearing care including Member States, professional societies, NGOs, civil society groups, bilateral organizations, researchers and industry partners. The participants reviewed actions undertaken by WHO at global, regional and national levels to promote the implementation of the WHA resolution on prevention of deafness and hearing loss; and proposed strategies for furthering its implementation. WHO announced the World Hearing Forum which will drive a global, multi-stakeholder advocacy initiative for prioritization of ear and hearing care. The World Hearing Day activities were reviewed and further steps proposed. WHO also sensitized the group about the upcoming World Report on Hearing which will be launched in March 2020.

3 July 2018: Lunchtime seminar on Country actions to address hearing loss

A lunchtime seminar drew attention to WHO and country actions to deliver on the WHA resolution on prevention of deafness and hearing loss. Shelly Chadha of WHO introduced the need and means for promoting global action. She was followed by Sue Archbold of UK and Isaac Macharia of Kenya who outlined ongoing activities and actions for ear and hearing care, in the European and African regions respectively.

2 July 2018: WHO ad hoc consultation on primary ear and hearing care training manual revision

WHO is currently revising the Primary ear and hearing care training resources that were launched in 2006 with the aim to update them considering recent developments in knowledge and technology. The meeting on 2 July brought together experts representing different sectors including audiology, otology, education, hearing rehabilitation, public health, WHO country and regional offices to discuss the proposed revisions. The revised version of the training resources are expected to be finalized in 2019.

5 July 2018: Consultation for development of the World Report on Hearing

WHO is developing a World report on Hearing which is expected to be launched in March 2020. The second consultation on this report brought together a number of stakeholders who together reviewed the proposed structure and outline of the report. They listed the information requirements for the report and agreed on means to gather the required data. An initial discussion on the list of priority interventions was held. The group also proposed other stakeholders that should be engaged or kept informed regarding this report.

Contact us

World Health Organization Prevention of Blindness and Deafness (PBD) 20 Avenue Appia CH-1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland