In 2015, approximately half a billion people had disabling hearing loss, about 6·8% of the world's population. These numbers are substantially higher than estimates published before 2013, and point to the growing importance of hearing loss and global hearing health care. In this Review, we describe the burden of hearing loss and offer our and others' recommendations for halting and then reversing the continuing increases in this burden. Low-cost possibilities exist for prevention of hearing loss, as do unprecedented opportunities to reduce the generally high treatment costs. These possibilities and opportunities could and should be exploited. Additionally, a comprehensive worldwide initiative like VISION 2020 but for hearing could provide a focus for support and also enable and facilitate the increased efforts that are needed to reduce the burden. Success would produce major personal and societal gains, including gains that would help to fulfil the "healthy lives" and "disability inclusive" goals in the UN's new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.