ears

A World Health Organisation report has found that increasing access to hearing devices is ‘a sound investment’. Are decision-makers listening? For individuals, hearing loss can have a profound impact on quality of life: they lose independence, educational opportunities and earning power. Some people also suffer social isolation, lost confidence and a decline in wellbeing. Now consider the fact that over 5% of the world’s population – that’s 360 million people – are living with disabling hearing loss. In addition to the personal burden borne by millions, the global impact on societies and economies is enormous. Many of those 360 million people require support from their families, communities and – where available – social insurance funds. But there are actions that can be taken to address this serious issue. A sound investment The burden of deafness and hearing problems has come into sharp focus in the wake of a WHO report entitled ‘ Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment ’. The report looks at the economic impact of hearing loss and the cost of intervening to restore hearing using devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants. These technologies require investment. The big question for the WHO experts behind the report was how the cost of treating hearing loss compares to the cost of inaction. The answer was clear: doing nothing is simply not an option . According to the WHO, the cost of hearing loss runs to around $750 billion per year. On the other side of the scales, the total cost of hearing care globally is estimated to be around $15 billion annually. ‘Provision of hearing devices is a cost-effective strategy, especially when used regularly and supported with rehabilitation service,’ according to the report. Screening children and adults aged over 50 is also considered to be a...
What is your day-to-day work like? I’m the head of a busy Department in a University Hospital in Bratislava and I’m also the Secretary General of IFOS - the International Federation of Otorhinolaryngological Societies. My department is dealing with both inpatient and outpatient care. We are also a teaching hospital so aside from dealing with patients with ear, nose and throat disorders, I’m kept busy upskilling students and providing young doctors with specialised training in Otorhinolaryngology –head and neck practice (ORL). I’m also involved in different research initiatives so when there’s a deadline for a research grant in my field of business this can be quite demanding on my time, finalising research submission with my team. How do you help improve or save people's lives through your work? Rhinology conditions - nose and sinus diseases, infections, inflammatory conditions and tumours - affect a huge segment of the population, particularly if you consider the amount of people affected by allergies. We carry out a number of surgical procedures relieving patients of their sinus problems. One of the most challenging areas of our work is treating those patients with head and neck tumours. We work with a multidisciplinary team to carry out sophisticated and highly complex surgeries. Another area is helping patients with congenital hearing loss. This is another very complicated area, particularly for children with hearing impairments. To be able to carry out life-changing surgery and provide patients with an implant and thus the opportunity to hear again: it’s hugely rewarding. Indeed, by implanting a cochlear implant in the ear of a child, you are forever connected to that child and their family, right through to their adult lives. You can see them grow and develop and enjoy a happy and successful life as they return for check-ups, not impaired or...
What is your day-to-day work like? How do you help improve or save people's lives through your work? My work is divided into four main parts: firstly, research (both clinical and applied) to document the effectiveness of medical technologies and identify how we can improve the outcomes for different groups of patients through certain devices. Secondly, I have direct consultations with patients through my work at the clinic. At the Centre we run one of the biggest Auditory Implant programs in the world having the largest globally group of patients under our care. I take on some of the most difficult cases and I aim to improve fitting of auditory implants on patients in order to achieve the best outcomes for them. Thirdly, education: I teach clinical engineering and hearing science at the university. Finally, naturally, my work also entails a lot of paperwork. What do you think are the top three challenges facing the healthcare system and your profession in particular? I think that the following three challenges are equally important to the healthcare system and to my profession: costs, lack of awareness and lack of education. The cost of new technologies is a constant struggle to the system. This is true for the different groups of patients, including completely and partially deaf people as well. Over 360 million people suffer from hearing disabilities worldwide, many of whom are from low income countries. They often do not get to benefit from the latest technologies. There is also a lack of awareness about new technologies among different healthcare professionals. We will need to equip more specialties with the knowledge about these technologies and spread this knowledge further in other clinical jobs. The technologies we have are powerful, but they are also complex. We will need to educate healthcare professionals on...