In the report prepared for International Ear Care Day (March 3), WHO said one in three people over the age of 65, or a total of 165 million people worldwide, live with hearing loss, and another 32 million affected by hearing loss are children aged under 15.
About half of all cases of hearing loss are easily preventable while many can be treated through early diagnosis and suitable interventions such as surgically implanted hearing devices, said Shelly Chadha of the WHO Department of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness.
She, however, warned that the current production of hearing aids met less than 10 percent of the global need.
"In developing countries, fewer than one out of 40 people who need a hearing aid have one," Chadha said.
WHO encouraged countries to develop programmes for preventing hearing loss within their primary health care systems including vaccinating children against infectious diseases such as measles, meningitis and mumps.
It also recommended measures such as screening and treating syphilis in pregnant women, and early assessment and management of hearing loss in babies.