Highlights of the new WHO Report on Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening and implications for developing countries

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Jun;75(6):745-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2011.01.036.


The Report summarizes the outcome of a recent informal consultation convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009 pursuant to the 1995 resolution of the World Health Assembly (WHA) urging Member States to promote programs for early hearing detection in babies and infants. The consultation was geared towards reaching global consensus on key principles on this subject based on the experiences and contributions of leading experts from various world regions and across relevant disciplines. After reviewing the current evidence on early hearing detection in babies and infants the Report outlined guiding principles for action by Member States covering issues such as etiology, case definition of hearing impairment, options for screening, program implementation, cost-effectiveness as well as policy and legislation. The need for context-specific adaptations of current practices in the developed world to facilitate the development of effective and culturally appropriate early hearing detection programs in developing countries was emphasized. The potential role of private-public partnerships including non-governmental organizations in designing and implementing hearing screening programs was highlighted while recognizing the necessity to develop requisite support services for infants detected with hearing impairment. Overall, the Report is likely to stimulate greater interest and progress towards early hearing detection initiatives particularly in countries where necessary actions are yet to be taken to implement the WHA resolution. However, any effort in this direction must be backed by greater professional engagement, appropriate national policies and strong involvement of WHO regional offices in developing countries.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Tests*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • World Health Organization*