Call for Sustained Funding for Cochlear Implants
Surgeons, Audiologists, Researchers and Patients Call for Sustained Funding for Cochlear Implants
To highlight the continued plight of adults affected by severe to profound hearing loss and needing a cochlear implant to restore their hearing, the Pindrop Foundation has launched its #HearMe campaign with ENT surgeons, audiologists, researchers and adult consumers calling for better access and sustainable funding for cochlear implants.
This year, the government allocated a one off national funding boost of $6.5 million for the adult cochlear implant programmes, which has helped address the long wait times experienced by many adults.
However, the base contract of only 40 implants for adults each year remains, and with an ongoing average of 180 new referrals coming through each year, the demand continues to exceed the availability of implants. This means waiting times of two years will continue to be the normal for many adults.
Lee Schoushkoff, CEO of the Pindrop Foundation says, “The additional one of funding of $6.5 million this year was a welcome boost to the adult cochlear implant programmes and enabled us to address the lengthy waiting lists, but we need to be able to achieve sustainable funding to ensure the waiting times do not continue to grow again."
Rebecca Garland, a Cochlear Implant surgeon and Chair of the Otolaryngology Society of New Zealand says, “With disabling hearing loss, suddenly your whole life just starts to get smaller and smaller until you’re in this little pigeon hole of communication, you’re socially isolated, you’re embarrassed, you can’t follow things, friends drop off, marital problems, disharmony. It’s really crushing. A cochlear implant can change this.
“Yet, for four out of five of my patients who need a cochlear implant, there is still no funding. For me, that’s just heartbreaking…when you’ve got something in your hand that you can give to someone, but you can’t do it because there’s no money, that’s the hardest thing of all.”
#HearMe is calling for equity of access to cochlear implants in line with other elective procedures for disability, waiting no longer than 4 months for surgery.
Roanna Mowbray, a cochlear implant user and audiologist says, “I believe that communication is a fundamental human right because connecting with others through communication is such an essential part of who we are.
“I believe that no-one should ever have to experience, even for a short time, being powerless to communicate with others around them. So, for that reason, I believe that there needs to be more funding made available for people on the waiting list for a cochlear implant.”
To find our more about the #HearMe campaign and be involved, please visit the Pindrop Foundation website at www.pindrop.org.nz.
About the Pindrop Foundation, disabling hearing loss and Cochlear Implants.
The Pindrop Foundation is a New Zealand charity supporting adults affected by a severe to profound hearing loss gain access to a hearing world through cochlear implant technology and services.
A cochlear implant is different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids turn up the volume by amplifying sounds to make them easier for damaged ears to detect. Cochlear implants bypass the damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the hearing (auditory) nerve.
Only 1 in 5 people currently assessed as needing a cochlear implant in New Zealand gets access to one.
Those with hearing loss have higher rates of unemployment and underemployment (Kochkin, 2007; 2010)
Hearing loss is associated with greater use of medical and social services but increased use of hearing aids and cochlear implants leads to less use of health and social care services (O’Neil, 2016)
Hearing Loss is the number one cause of Years Lost to Disability in those over 70 in Western Europe (Davis, 2016)
Social isolation has an effect on health and in older people there is a strong correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline (Lin, 2013),