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World Voice Day.

On April 16, 2005, otolaryngologists throughout the world will celebrate "World Voice Day." This international celebration of the human voice was established to help raise public and professional awareness about voice disorders. It represents an interesting and growing collaboration of otolaryngologists, for the public good.

The idea for a large-scale event focusing on voice originated in Brazil. In April 1999, Brazilian otolaryngologists established National Voice Week. This effort was inspired by World Health Organization data documenting a disturbingly high rate of laryngeal cancer in Brazil. Colleagues in other nations recognized the value of this effort. Collaboration began through the support of professional societies, including the European Laryngological Association (www.elsoc.org), American Laryngological Association (www.alahns.org), the Voice Foundation (www.voicefoundation.org), American Broncho-Esophagological Association (www.abea.net), Turkish Professional Voice Association (www.professional-voice.org), and others. The American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery joined the effort, and the first World Voice Day was celebrated on April 16, 2003.

Recognizing the importance of voice to its 10,000 members and to the general public, the AAO-HNS has accepted leadership responsibility in the United States for this health education campaign. The celebration involves a variety of educational and media events throughout the country, as well as Web-based education that can be accessed through the Academy's special Web site at www.entnet.org/news/voiceday.cfm.

We use our voices not only to communicate ideas and emotions, but also to establish our credibility. The voice is an exceedingly fragile and sensitive instrument. It can be damaged by voice abuse or misuse, tobacco use, laryngopharyngeal reflux, respiratory dysfunction, neurologic dysfunction, and many other causes. A great number of systemic diseases present initially as voice impairments, and astute otolaryngologists are often the first healthcare providers to diagnose systemic disorders of almost every body system. Nevertheless, because the subspecialty of voice has existed for only a couple of decades, many otolaryngologists still are not optimally attuned to recognize voice impairment and its many implications. Similarly, the general public remains extremely tolerant of voice pathology, accepting voices that are clearly pathologic even from actors, announcers, and politicians. This acceptance of voice abnormalities by the public, and even by some otolaryngologists, is not benign. It results in prolonged dysphonia (with its professional and social consequences) in many people who could be helped easily, and it results in the delayed diagnosis of serious conditions, including laryngeal carcinoma.

World Voice Day represents one small step toward increasing awareness of vocal health among members of the general public and highlighting advances in voice diagnosis and treatment within the international otolaryngology community. All of us in otolaryngology should use World Voice Day as an opportunity to bring ourselves up to date on the latest developments in laryngology, and to help educate our patients and communities through lectures, free voice screenings, and other community outreach projects. Our profession has made great strides in voice diagnosis and treatment during the last 2 to 3 decades. We should avail ourselves of every opportunity to educate ourselves and the public about the current state of the art, and to encourage the public and the media to support voice education and research.
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Author:Sataloff, Robert T.
Publication:Ear, Nose and Throat Journal
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:527
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