First World Report on Hearing calls for action on a hidden public health burden

3 March 2021

The Australian Hearing Hub at Macquarie University’s North Ryde Campus has today launched the first ever World Health Organization (WHO) World Report on Hearing.

Macquarie University researchers, in collaboration with members of the Australian Hearing Hub, Australian WHO World Hearing Forum members, and the Hearing Health Sector Alliance are encouraging policy makers and wider society to put the report into action.

The landmark report Hearing Care for All: Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate aims to raise awareness among policymakers and the public of the rising global prevalence of hearing loss to make ear and hearing care a key public health priority.

The World Report on Hearing estimates that a fifth of people live with hearing loss, making it the third ranked cause of years lived with disability. Hearing loss is expected to increase to impact a quarter of the global population by 2050 with growing and ageing populations.

The cost of hearing loss is high: $1,230 billion dollars is lost globally due to unaddressed hearing loss. In Australia, the cost is about $20 billion, mostly due to lost productivity and health system costs.

The WHO is calling for ear and hearing care to be a priority for policy makers to address with all age groups, with the report providing a framework of how to address key issues.

While Australia is regarded as a world leader in research and the development of implantable hearing solutions and support services for children and adults with hearing loss, there remain significant areas of ear and hearing care need among older adults and Indigenous Australians. Amongst these groups hearing issues are highest but access and uptake of, ear and hearing care remains low.

Professor Catherine McMahon, Director of the HEAR (Hearing Education Application Research) Centre at Macquarie University has worked closely with the WHO and brought the expertise of Australian leaders in this field to the forefront to develop the first World Report on Hearing.

“The WHO Report presents a once in a generation opportunity to bring national and global policy maker attention to the importance of detecting ear disease and hearing loss early and pathways to treatment, by ensuring this is included within national health plans and primary health checks,” says Professor McMahon.

Professor McMahon is due to present a summary of the World Report on Hearing to the Australian Government and highlight priority areas to address in Australia.


About the Australian Hearing Hub (AHH)

Macquarie University is a world-class research, treatment and innovation institution – a dynamic environment which drove the creation of the AHH. The AHH brings some of the country’s leading hearing and healthcare organisations together to collaborate across critical issues in hearing health. Pioneering partnerships unite researchers, educators, clinicians and innovators with expertise in linguistics, audiology, speech pathology, cognitive and language sciences, psychology, nanofabrication and engineering sciences.

Major partners in the AHH include Cochlear Limited, whose world headquarters are located adjacent to the AHH, and the world-recognised research organisation the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL). Other key partners included the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) and its associated cochlear-implant program, the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre (SCIC) and The Shepherd Centre.


The AHH is an initiative of the Australian Government that was established as part of the Education Investment Fund.

World Hearing Forum Australian Members:

  • Audiology Australia
  • Aussie Deaf Kids
  • Centre of Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
  • Cochlear
  • Deafness Forum
  • Ear Science Institute
  • HEAR (Hearing Education Application Research) Centre at Macquarie University


Hearing Health Sector Alliance Members:

  • Audiology Australia
  • Australian College of Audiology
  • Deafness Forum Australia
  • National Acoustics Laboratories
  • Ear Science Institute
  • Hearing Care Industry Association
  • Hearing Business Alliance
  • Macquarie University
  • Speech Pathology Australia
  • The Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
  • First Voice
  • Soundfair
  • Hearing Manufacturers and Distributors of Australia
  • Better Hearing Australia
  • The University of Queensland

Filed under: Featured

Professor Cath McMahon from Macquarie University's Department of Linguistics, and Cricket Legend Brett Lee at the launch of the World Report on Hearing

Professor Cath McMahon from Macquarie University’s Department of Linguistics, and Cricket Legend Brett Lee at the launch of the World Report on Hearing

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