WORLD Hearing Day is held on March 3 each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss, and promote ear and hearing care across the world.

The theme for 2018 is “Hear the Future”.

The way that humans perceive their world is mediated through sensory experience. Of all the senses, it is hearing which fundamentally facilitates communication and fosters social interaction, allowing people to forge relationships, participate in daily activities, be alerted to danger and experience life events – in all of its splendour.

Around five percent of the world’s population, 360 million people (World Health Organisation, 2016) live with hearing loss, with nearly 32 million being children.

The vast majority of these children live in the world’s low-income and middle-income countries. In South Africa, approximately 6 116 babies a year (17 babies every day) are born with a hearing loss.

Owing to the absence of infant screening programmes in South Africa, hearing loss often goes undetected.

The consequences of and costs associated with undetected hearing loss are pervasive and far-reaching, especially when it comes to language development.