Did you know, it’s predicted that by 2050 there will be a dramatic rise in the number of New Zealanders coping with the impact of living with hearing loss.
The National Foundation for the Deaf Inc. and the New Zealand Audiological Society are working together to raise awareness of this issue to ensure New Zealanders are well aware of this reality and can act now to prevent it from occurring.
Australian research (Listen Hear Report, Access Economics 2005) quantified the impacts of hearing loss and estimate both the financial costs and the loss of wellbeing from hearing loss in Australia. Such analysis is important to inform policy making and direct scarce health resources to preventative and therapeutic interventions that are most cost effective. When we apply these research findings to New Zealand in 2012, the cost of hearing loss per capita in New Zealand is estimated to be 1.4% of GDP = $2.83 billion.
To date there has been no definitive research on the full economic impact of hearing loss in New Zealand, despite the large proportion of people who have hearing loss and its substantial effects on life quality and the capacity to communicate, to work and function effectively in an increasingly communication-intense society.
Based on the Australian data, projections of hearing loss indicate;
- prevalence of hearing loss overall is projected to increase from 17.4% (1:6) in 2005 to 26.7% (more than 1:4) by 2050
- based on Statistics New Zealand’s median population projections the number of New Zealanders living with hearing loss will increase from over 700,000 in 2012 to 1.08 million in 2036 and 1.5 million in 2061 and
- a significant amount of hearing loss (37%) is due to excessive noise exposure, which is preventable.
The evidence is irrefutable and compelling. We have the opportunity now to intervene and we must act by investing in proven intervention measures including:
1. funding a National Research Project to quantify the New Zealand population estimates on hearing loss
2. establishing a National Hearing Health Committee to represent sector issues to Government, ensuring hearing loss prevention is on the agenda of all government education and health promotion initiatives
3. creating a New Zealand Hearing Strategy to support public policy planning, implementation and delivery of services.
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