The importance of good hearing and the consequences of hearing loss are still underestimated. People with untreated hearing loss are often faced with serious consequences. They range from disadvantages at work to relationship problems and social isolation, which may even lead to depression.
As well as its impact on the individual, untreated hearing loss puts a heavy cost burden on society. According to the WHO, unaddressed hearing loss costs countries an estimated USD 750 billion annually in direct health costs and loss of productivity.
As a leading provider of hearing solutions, Sonova is addressing these issues as part of its vision of creating a world in which everybody can enjoy the delight of hearing and live a life without limitations. Increasing access to hearing care is one of the top priorities of Sonova’s corporate responsibility engagement. Sonova pursues a variety of innovative approaches to expand access to hearing care for people in lower-income countries.Seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) comprise the UN’s global sustainable development agenda for the years until 2030. Sonova has been a signatory of the UN Global Compact since 2016 and actively supports the achievement of all seventeen SDGs. Sonova’s products, business strategy, and activities make essential contributions to SDGs 3 (good health and wellbeing) and 4 (quality education).
The third SDG calls for ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for people of all ages.
Currently, 80% of people with hearing loss live in developing countries, where hearing aids are unaffordable – and there are few or no trained professionals to address hearing problems. In these countries, fewer than 1 in 45 people who need a hearing aid have access to one.
Sonova therefore strives to expand access to hearing care by offering the industry’s most comprehensive product portfolio and by supporting the training of local specialists, which is especially valuable in emerging countries. In China, for instance Sonova built a new training center - – the Global Hearing Institute in Suzhou.
The fourth SDG is to ensure inclusive high-quality education for all, promoting lifelong learning.
To be able to follow a lifelong educational path, it is essential for children to have a good start. But children with untreated hearing loss face severe difficulties, since development of speech and language is fundamentally dependent on the sense of hearing. Untreated hearing loss among children can greatly limit speech, cognitive development and school performance. Children with hearing loss often grow up unable to find work and get trapped in a cycle of poverty and isolation.
In addition to Sonova’s suite of innovative and easy-to-use products especially designed for children, Sonova founded the non-profit Hear the World Foundation in 2006; it focuses particularly on supporting children, enabling them to develop their fullest potential. Sonova supports the foundation through funding, technology and the expertise of its employees who serve the foundation’s projects as volunteers. Since its establishment, the Hear the World foundation has supported over 90 projects all around the world and given thousands of children access to better hearing and education.