• World Health Organisation (WHO) launches “hearWHO”, a mobile app to cater for 466 million people with disabling hearing loss.
  • The health agency launched the app in celebration of the annual World Hearing Day
  • WHO says the app will help reduce an annual cost of $750 billion to hearing loss case worldwide.

To cater for 466 million people with disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children), the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched “hearWHO”, a free mobile application, which allows people to check their hearing regularly and intervene early in case of hearing loss.

The app is targeted at those who are at risk of hearing loss or who already experience some of the symptoms related to hearing loss and help reduce an annual cost of $750 billion to the issue.

In a press statement released over the weekend, the health agency said the application in celebration of the annual World Hearing Day, themed; “check your hearing”.

Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, and Violence and Injury Prevention, said, "many people with hearing loss are unaware of it and as such they miss out on educational, professional and everyday-life opportunities," said

"Regular hearing checks ensure that hearing loss is identified and addressed as early as possible."

World Health Organization (WHO)
hearWHO mobile app interface

About the app hearWHO

The app is based on a validated digits-in-noise technology: users are asked to concentrate, listen and enter into their mobile devices a series of three numbers when prompted.

These numbers have been recorded against varying levels of background sound, simulating listening conditions in everyday life. The app displays the users' score and its meaning and stores the outcome of the test so that the user can monitor hearing status over time. Reminders to take the test regularly can be set by users. The app can be used by individuals as well as health providers with a view to facilitating hearing screening, especially in low-resource settings.

Dr Shelly Chadha, WHO Technical Officer, "Above all, this app will help us increase awareness of the importance of ear and hearing care."

UN News - ONU
Dr Shelly Chadha, WHO Technical Officer

"Once lost, hearing does not come back.”

Who will benefit

According to the World Bank, those who will particularly benefit from this new tool include people who are often exposed to high levels of sound. These set of people are:

  • Those who listen to loud music or work in noisy places.
  • People who use medicines that are harmful to hearing.
  • People aged above 60 years.

The World Bank said early detection of hearing loss is crucial to identify risky behaviours that need to be changed and ascertain the most appropriate intervention needed to address hearing loss.