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The world health organization’s program for the prevention of deafness and hearing impairment major planned activities for PDH.

Major planned activities for PDH
The key purpose of this work at WHO is to persuade Governments to implement programs for prevention of deafness and hearing impairment, particularly in developing countries where the need is greatest and where, in many cases, there has been little activity and no national programs. There are four major activities currently underway and being planned.

Global epidemiology & the costs of hearing impairment
A uniform methodology for collection of population–based data on hearing impairment has been developed by the Who particularly for developing countries, and has been partially field tested. A database will then be constructed and will eventually cover all countries. Criteria will be devised for assessing the quality of surveys, and suitable previous surveys will also be included. The database will assist in drawing attention to the problem globally. The data will also be used to determine the costs of hearing impairment, both to the individual and to society, and the benefits of prevention. Information from this activity will enable health planners to establish priorities and determine needs at the national and supra–national level.

Prevention of hearing impairment from chronic otitis media (COM)
Chronic suppurative otitis media is the commonest cause of childhood hearing impairment in developing countries. Other forms of COM are important causes in more developed countries. The hearing loss they may cause can have serious effects on language development and school progress. The goal of this activity is to reduce the incidence and prevalence of hearing impairment caused by COM in developing countries.

A workshop of experts will be organized. It is intended that this will lead to the production of appropriate guidelines which can be used in National programs.

Development of primary ear care as part of primary health care
Many ear diseases and causes of hearing impairment can be prevented by action at the primary level. Such a program of Primary Ear Care would incorporate the supporting principles and activities of Primary Health Care (see Table 1). It would include promotive, preventive, and therapeutic measures for ear care to an individual or a community. The development of such a program would need to determine the essential ear care to be given at primary level, but it would also require that necessary support be available from Secondary and Tertiary levels with a system of 2–way referral. All this could be developed within the context of what could be called Public health otology and audiology.

Table 1: Primary healthcare
Supporting principles Activities
  • Community participation.
  • Equitable distribution.
  • Focus on prevention.
  • Appropriate technology.
  • Multi–sectorial collaboration.
  • Human resource development.
  • Organization and management.
  • Resource mobilization.
  • Health education.
  • Safe water and basic sanitation.
  • Maternal and child health care.
  • Immunization against major infections.
  • Prevention & control of local diseases.
  • Appropriate treatment of common diseases and injuries.
  • Provision of essential drugs.


Contributed by Dr. K. K. Desarda