The British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) has announced in a press release its support for the campaign calling for state-funded hearing checks for everyone when they reach age 65.
According to the organization, the campaign is spearheaded by charities such as Action on Hearing Loss and the Ear Foundation— although support for the measure is not industry wide. BIHIMA states that any program which promotes access to the life-changing technology developed by its members is not only desirable: it is vital.
According to BIHIMA, the UK National Health Service (NHS) currently assesses the hearing health of new babies through the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme, but the most recent review by the UK National Screening Committee did not support screening for hearing loss in adults. The Association believes that a national screening program for people age 65+ in the same way as eyes and teeth are routinely checked should be “the new normal.” Hearing loss reportedly affects over 11 million adults and 45,000 children in the UK (1 in 6 of the population), and very few people ever get their hearing checked.
BIHIMA believes that making national hearing screening at age 65 a “new normal” would also reduce the cost of hearing problems wider society. It says the UK loses approximately £25 billion (US$31 billion) a year in productivity and unemployment as a result of poor hearing health. Action on Hearing Loss estimates that a hearing screening program for people aged 65 would cost £255 million ($317 million) over 10 years, but the benefits across this period would amount to over £2 billion ($2.5 billion): a 10-year benefit-to-cost ratio of 8:1.
“These big numbers represent millions of individual lives— lives which could be transformed through better awareness about hearing health and through access to the innovative hearing technology developed by our members,” says BIHIMA Chairman Paul Surridge.
In the absence of a screening program at present, BIHIMA encourages individuals to make hearing checks part of their normal healthcare routine. The Association says that anyone can ask their GP or a national chain or an independent audiologist for a hearing test, or you can use one of the many online tests.