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Report of WHO Officer of UEP/ICD11 Process

Katrin Neumann, who collaborates in several WHO projects, has been asked by Monica Tigges and Antoinette am Zehnhoff-Dinnesen to look for the opportunity of the UEP to contribute to the preparation of the ICD-11. She contacted Shelly Chadha, the Technical Officer of the WHO Team for Prevention of Deafness and of Hearing Loss, who at current looks for an option to involve the UEP and announced to communicate with the WHO person in charge for the ICD-11. There might be only little options because the elaboration of the ICD-11 is already advanced.

Katrin Neumann also asked Shelly Chadha for an opportunity of the UEP to collaborate with the WHO and to eventually become an affiliate society of the WHO. Mrs. Chadha appreciated this initiative and explained the ways for the UEP for such a collaboration. It has to be clear that the UEP is an international organization and not a pure European one which is given. In a 3-year collaboration period, a collaborative plan has to be made and annual reports on its fulfilling have to be forwarded to the WHO. The plan should be in line with WHO activities, in particular in the field of prevention of deafness and hearing loss. Other actions can be initiated exerting from this basis. After this period the UEP has to apply for the status of an affiliate society of the WHO. This application will be evaluated and decided by an internal council of the WHO according to specific criteria. One of the criteria is the impact of the previous collaborative UEP actions. To be an affiliate society of the WHO is associated with a certain financial commitment.

At the 27th Congress of the Union of the European Phoniatricians in Moscow Katrin Neumann shared this information with the UEP Board members. The Board was clearly in favor for a collaboration with the WHO and elected Katrin Neumann as the WHO of the UEP mandate for WHO matters. She has some experience in the work with the WHO as a member of the Global Burden of Disease Hearing Loss Group, contact person of the IALP for Audiology, participant in the WHO informal consultation on neonatal and infant hearing screening in 2009 and co-author of the respective 2010 issues and guidelines.

After the congress, Katrin Neumann again communicated with Mrs. Chadha, who specified the steps to do for the UEP as follows:

The UEP needs to elaborate a collaborative work-plan for 2015-17. Shelly Chadha suggested to add activities which are focussed on deafness and would bring value to WHO’s work on prevention of deafness and hearing loss (WHO PDH).

The focus of the collaborative activities should be directed towards the WHO PDH, though UEP is welcome to add other activities which Shelly Chadha shall then refer to the concerned units. Shelly Chadha suggested the inclusion of some activities as described below:

1. Current situation of newborn and infant hearing screening programmes across the world. This questionnaire based survey is being undertaken by Katrin Neumann and will provide useful information which WHO can use. It can be a collaborative activity with a concrete outcome.

2. Organizing a plenary session on primary ear and hearing care in the UEP future conferences, in technical collaboration with WHO. Different themes can be developed, which resonate with the areas of work for WHO PDH.

3. Promotion of the International Ear Care Day on 3 March: UEP can promote awareness on this day and WHO activities through its communication channels.

4. Support WHO PDH through sponsoring annually one (or more) intern selected for the position in PDH (a commitment of around 4-5000 US$ to be made directly to the intern and not WHO). UEP can decide its own selection criteria for the sponsorship, if it is considered as an option for collaborative activities.

5. There is a consortium of organizations (Hearing Conservation Council, CBM, IFOS, ISA and AAO) which supports the WHO PDH. These organizations contribute financially towards supporting the WHO program. The UEP may wish to consider joining the consortium now or at a later date, if this meets with their identified priorities. If you wish, Shelly Chadha suggested to put the UEP in touch with the leader of this consortium, Lady Jean Wilson. Katrin Neumann knows Lady Jean Wilson already very well. Providing support to the program through the consortium can also be a collaborative agenda in the work-plan.

Activities undertaken so far:

A proposal for a collaborative plan will be elaborated by Katrin Neumann, discussed with the UEP Board and aligned with WHO activities in cooperation with Shelly Chadha.

An article has been published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization by Bolajoko Olusanya, Katrin Neumann and James Saunders in 2014 which calls for action to fulfil the requirements of the “roadmap” for curtailing the burden posed by disabling hearing impairment which has been outlined in a resolution of the 1995 World Health Assembly. In this resolution the WHO had asked its member states to prepare national plans for the prevention and control of major causes of avoidable hearing loss and for its early detection in babies, toddlers, and children.

In line with this call to action and in order to assess the current global status of newborn and infant hearing screening in an international survey two questionnaires were developed by Katrin Neumann with support of Karl White and administered to potential representatives of newborn and infant hearing screening programs of nearly all countries of the world. So far, 141 of 173 countries provided information. More than half of them have implemented newborn or infant hearing screening programs on a regional or national level. Their effectiveness would be higher if there was a national program and the screening is mandated. There is a lack of such programs in low income countries. Region-dependent prevalences of permanent infant hearing loss ranged from >1 to 15 per 1000. The survey has been supported by UEP members, in particular from the Middle East and from Eastern Europe. Its outcome has been presented in a Workshop, initiated by Manfred Gross, at the World Health Summit 2014 in Berlin, where hearing loss was an issue for the first time. Also Shelly Chadha participated in this workshop and gave a presentation. The outcome of the survey will be included in the 2015 WHO report and used for the World Health Assembly in May 2015 where disabling hearing loss will be an issue.

The financial commitment of at minimum 4000 (=3,262.91 €) has already been discussed with Antoinette am Zehnhoff-Dinnesen who proposed to eventually combine it with a similar application of the IAPA.

Prof. Katrin Neumann
WHO Officer of UEP, Bochum, Germany