History of Audiology
The system of audiological services was set up in the Soviet Union in 1952 with the issue of the legislative act by the Ministry of Public Health Care. At that time audiological units were organized within the municipal and regional hospitals.
Up to 1979, the audiological and hearing aid fitting services were separate and supervised correspondingly by the Ministry of Public Health Care and the Ministry of Social Defense. It made rendering of proper assistance to the patients with hearing problems difficult. In 1979, according to the legislative act of the Ministry of Public Health Care both services were united. This fact promoted development of a well-functioning audiological system in the country.
In November of 1988, the All-Union Research Center for Audiology and Hearing Rehabilitation was founded according to the decision of the Soviet government. It was appointed the top national institution responsible for the fundamental and applied research in audiology as well as for supervision of the activities of all regional audiological centers. After the well-known geopolitical changes in 1991 the words “All-Union” were changed to “National” (History, 2020).
One of the most efficient approaches to the solution of the problem of early detection of hearing loss is the development and wide introduction of audiological screening programs on the national level. This system, considering all the peculiarities of the country health care conditions has been developed in Russia and is being now realized all over the country. In March 1996, the Russian Ministry of Health issued the regulations on hearing screening of newborns and first-year-of-life children. It aimed TEOAE registration of babies both high-risk and had not passed behavioral testing with confirmation of referrals with ABR registration. This document had the status of legislative act and determined all steps and time of screening stages and follow-up.
In 2008, the universal newborn hearing screening program based on TEOAE registration was implemented nationally. The coverage of newborns has achieved 97% by the year of 2015. About 5,000 newborns and first-year-of-life babies with hearing loss are identified yearly (Tavartkiladze et al, 2016).
Hearing loss incidence and prevalence
The prevalence of congenital and prelingual hearing loss among newborns and first-year-of-life babies is about 2.5-3.0 per 1000 live births (Tavartkiladze et al., 2016; Chibisova et al., 2018). The early identification of congenital hearing loss has dramatically improved with implementation of the program of universal newborn hearing screening at a national level.
According to statistical data from the Ministry of Health of Russian Federation, the prevalence of hearing loss >25 dB (average PTA thresholds 0,5, 1, 2, 4 kHz) is about 4 per 1,000 in children 0-18 years old, 6.5 per 1,000 in adult population and 14 per 1,000 in people aged 60 years and older. It is estimated that 75% is bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (Prevalence, 2020)
According to Global Burden of Disease 2017 study, prevalence of socially significant hearing loss (i.e., >35 dB in the better hearing ear with average PTA thresholds 0,5, 1, 2, 4 kHz) in Russian Federation is about 5.7 per 1,000 (Global Burden of Disease, 2020).