Prevention of blindness and deafness

World Hearing Day: 3 March

World Hearing Day is an annual advocacy event which aims to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for World Hearing Day 2016 is ‘Childhood hearing loss: act now, here is how!’


WHO estimates that approximately 15% of the world’s adult population experience some degree (mild and above) of hearing loss. Of these, 360 million live with disabling hearing loss. Majority of those with hearing loss live in the less developed areas of the world.

Overview of WHO’s programme for the prevention of deafness and hearing loss

The WHO programme for prevention of deafness and hearing loss works with the vision of a world in which no person experiences hearing loss due to preventable causes and those with unavoidable hearing loss can achieve their full potential through appropriate interventions, education and empowerment. It aims to promote ear and hearing care (EHC), integrated within the primary health care systems of its Member States.

Make Listening Safe

WHO estimates that 1.1 billion young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Concerned at the increasing risks posed by exposure to loud sounds from the unsafe use of personal audio devices such as smartphones and MP3 players and noisy entertainment venues including nightclubs, bars and sporting events, WHO launched the Make Listening Safe initiative on 3 March 2015.

WHO network of collaborating centres for prevention of deafness and hearing loss

The WHO programme for prevention of deafness and hearing loss (PDH) is supported in its activities by a network of WHO Collaborating Centres.

fact buffet

Hearing loss

360 millionpeople live with disabling hearing loss

Global data on hearing loss

Safe listening

>1 billionyoung people (12-35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds

Make Listening Safe

Childhood hearing loss

>60%of childhood hearing loss is preventable

Childhood hearing loss


Recent events

  • 3 March 2016

    World Hearing Day

    Childhood hearing loss: act now; here is how!

  • 28-29 October 2015

    2nd strategic planning meeting of the WHO CC network on prevention

    The meeting was held in Nanjing, China, in collaboration with the Jiangsu Provincial Hospital. Five established and four potential collaborating centres participated in the meeting and developed a workplan for 2016-17.

  • 1-2 October 2015

    WHO-ITU consultations on Safe Listening Devices

    To discuss the threat posed by the widespread and unsafe use of personal audio systems to hearing, two consultations were organized by WHO, in collaboration with ITU. The consultations sought to initiate the development of standards for safe listening devices.

Contact us

World Health Organization Prevention of Blindness and Deafness (PBD) 20 Avenue Appia CH-1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland