The British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) works closely with its European counterpart the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA), and has supported their recent efforts to raise awareness of hearing loss with EU policymakers, the trade association announced. EHIMA submitted a parliamentary question to the European Commission in July, which has recently received a response from ministers.
The question, which was signed by the Austrian MEP Heinz K. Becker, can be read in full here. The question points to a widening gap between people that self-report hearing loss and the smaller proportion that receive treatment and/or wear devices; this “suboptimal use” of devices is estimated to cost the EU over EUR 500 billion (about USD $583.73 billion) annually. Citing the European Pillar of Social Rights—principles 16 and 17 which cover health care and the inclusion of people with disabilities—the question asks how the Commission can support best practices like early screenings, community education about the benefits of hearing devices, and research related to prevention and treatment strategies for hearing loss.
The European Commission published its answer on August 24, pointing to its efforts to develop the Best Practice Portal, a website described as a “one-stop shop” for best practices in a number of public health initiatives related to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations. In particular, the website aims to meet goal 3.4, “to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being, by one-third.” Additionally, the Commission’s 7th Framework Program for Research (FP7) as well as Horizon 2020—an EU research and innovation program—have funded research on the auditory system, screening standards, hearing devices, diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss-related diseases, and sign language. Further, the Commission states they have proposed a EUR 7.7 billion (USD about $9 billion) health budget for Horizon Europe 2020, focusing on initiatives related to lifelong health, rare diseases, and health care technologies, among other things. To further facilitate hearing-related funding, the Commission said, “Horizon Europe will be open to research proposals on hearing loss, including prevention and rehabilitation and innovative treatments.”
According to BIHIMA’s announcement, the Commission’s response is considered a positive exchange of information. Further, they state, BIHIMA’s European hearing manufacturing partners are encouraged that a greater understanding of hearing loss is being fostered among European policymakers.
“BIHIMA stand fully behind our European partners, EHIMA, in their effort to draw much-needed attention to hearing loss and we applaud this initiative to influence EU decision-making,” said Chairman Paul Surridge.
BIHIMA and EHIMA are together committed to the work of improving the lives of people with hearing loss through promoting greater access to hearing technology.
Source: BIHIMA, EHIMA, European Commission