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POLICY ISSUES Table of Contents   
Year : 1999  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 7-9
Hearing International and the prevention of deafness

Centre for Audiology, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

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How to cite this article:
Newton V. Hearing International and the prevention of deafness. Noise Health 1999;1:7-9

How to cite this URL:
Newton V. Hearing International and the prevention of deafness. Noise Health [serial online] 1999 [cited 2019 Sep 15];1:7-9. Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?1999/1/2/7/31709
Hearing International (HI) is an International Agency which came into existence in 1992. It is a partnership of the main international professional organisations working in the field of hearing impairment and deafness together with international client organisations and other interested groups and individuals.

It arose out of a Standing Committee of the International Federation of Otolaryngological Societies(IFOS). The new organisation was supported by the International Society of Audiology (ISA) which, with IFOS, became one of the parent organisations. The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and the International Federation of Hard of Hearing Persons joined the Board in the following year. Since then the Executive Board has expanded to include the International Association of Physicians in Audiology (IAPA), International Initiative against Avoidable Disability (IMPACT), International Federation of Hard of Hearing (IFHOH) and the Nordic Audiological Societies.

The main aim of Hearing International was then, and continues to be, to promote the prevention and management of deafness and hearing impairment world-wide. Several objectives were set out:­

1) To investigate and make known the causes,extent and consequences of hearing impairment and deafness, to promote, support and encourage all measures designed to prevent, cure, reduce or remedy diseases and conditions which produce hearing impairment and deafness.

2) Seek recognition by and collaborate with all or any appropriate agencies of the United Nations including cooperation with the World Health Organisation's Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Impairment Programme.

3) To collaborate and support activities of otolaryngologists and audiologists and their organisations in activities concerning prevention and management of hearing impairment and deafness.

4) To mobilise and assist in the mobilisation of resources, including the raising of funds and stimulation of governmental support for national and international action to prevent and manage hearing impairment and deafness.

5) To promote and support the establishment, maintenance and development of national and regional organisations and committees in each country for prevention of hearing impairment and deafness.

Hearing International's strategy is to build a network of National Chapters or National Committees in as many countries as possible. Each National Committee would, ideally, be a charity with tax-exempt status, autonomous but affiliated to the International body and developing an Agenda which would be in accordance with the aims and objectives agreed by the International body.

The composition of National Committees can include professionals in the field of hearing impairment and deafness, persons who themselves are deaf or hearing impaired and other interested individuals.

Otolaryngologists, audiological physicians, audiologists, specialist teachers and technicians, public health workers and community leaders, parents and clients, by combining their efforts, could play a pivotal role within their own countries. Such Committees could be effective in raising awareness amongst policy-makers of the prevalence of avoidable deafness and hearing impairment, raise awareness in the general public of the problems of deafness and change attitudes in order to reduce handicap. They can be effective in fund-raising and in mobilising resources. In countries where there is no restriction on noise in the workplace or in the environment, National Committees can effectively lobby for the introduction of measures to limit damaging levels of noise exposure and can campaign for adequate compensation for those whose hearing is already damaged.

One of the ways in which Hearing International effects its aims is through the accreditation of HI/IFOS/ISA Centres. There are fifteen of these at the present time, mainly in developing countries. These Centres develop their own programmes and work mainly within their own countries but some are also involved in other countries. Their activities include collecting information about the causes of hearing loss and deafness, running training courses on primary ear care and raising public awareness of the causes and consequences of hearing impairment and deafness.

The Hearing International Newsletter has been an effective way of linking members in different countries. Its articles have provided information with regard to the activities of members and have highlighted topics of general interest. Noise induced hearing loss has been a recurrent topic as members have written about the extent of the problem in their own countries, the sources of noise and measures that are being taken to reduce exposure and to compensate those whose hearing has already been permanently damaged. A recent article has drawn attention to International Noise Awareness Day on April 21st 1999, the fourth such annual event. This event is sponsored by the League for the Hard of Hearing in the USA and provides an opportunity for bringing the effects of noise exposure before a wide spectrum of the public.

One of reasons Hearing International was formed was the perceived need to have a non­governmental organisation working with the World Health Organisation. In October 1997, the Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Impairment Programme (PDH) of the World Health Organisation held an informal meeting on the prevention of Noise Induced Hearing Loss in which Hearing International was one of the participants. The meeting addressed all sources of noise but concentrated on the social aspects and particularly these aspects in developing countries. Hearing International Newsletter subsequently published a summary of the meeting for the benefit of the membership. Working with the Prevention of Deafness Programme is an important opportunity for the membership of Hearing International to express its views as to the direction of the programme and the areas to prioritise.

Noise impacts upon hearing, health and quality of life. Reducing this impact is one of the goals of Hearing International in its crusade to make a significant contribution to the prevention of acquired deafness and hearing impairment. To achieve this goal there is a need to develop more National Committees and for more individuals and groups to join those already in existence. A large broad-based international organisation, linking professionals in the field with clients, parents and other interested groups and individuals has the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing noise induced hearing loss.

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Correspondence Address:
Valerie Newton
Centre for Audiology, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


PMID: 12689504

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