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International Cochlear Implant Day Highlights How The Pandemic Has Affected The Global Cochlear Implant Community

Today is International Cochlear Implant Day, and cochlear implant recipients from Aotearoa NZ have added their voice to a global campaign by the cochlear implant international community of action (CIICA) about how the pandemic has affected their lives.

Nurse and bi-lateral cochlear implant user, Josie Calcott from Tauranga said, “I have bi-lateral cochlear implants and they have been life changing, but I have seen the struggles of those who are waiting.

“Delays for surgery, coupled with the added communication challenges through mask wearing, people are feeling more isolated and it’s impacting their mental health.”

Retired company director, Graeme McLean, is on the waiting list for a cochlear implant, and meets regularly with Josie for a socially distanced coffee. He says, “Life with a severe hearing loss is hard on so many levels, but the pandemic has made life so much more challenging because communication is harder and nearly impossible with masks. Having someone who understands my struggles like Josie, makes it bearable.”

The World Report on Hearing stated: “A cochlear implant is one of the most successful neural prostheses developed.” In spite of this, globally, only 1 in 20 people who could benefit from a cochlear implant receives one.

Sue Archbold from CIICA says, “The pandemic has had a massive effect on the health and wellbeing of the global cochlear implant community. It has exacerbated the communication challenges they face on a daily basis, increased isolation, and impacted their mental health. Which is why it’s even more important to provide access to the life transforming technology of cochlear implants.”

Cochlear Implant International Community of Action (CIICA) was launched a year ago with the aim of improving global access to cochlear implants. The Pindrop Foundation is a member of CIICA's network of 77 organisations, and 350 individuals from 48 countries, who are united in action to achieve the goal of ensuring all those who could benefit from cochlear implants, gets them.

CEO of the Pindrop Foundation, Lee Schoushkoff says, “The cochlear implant community here in Aotearoa, NZ is proud to be part of a global collaboration with CIICA working toward a better access to cochlear implants.”

CIICA and the Pindrop Foundation have produced a video alongside cochlear implant recipients throughout the world who have shared their experiences of life through the pandemic. Watch it here.

Cochlear implants in New Zealand and The Pindrop Foundation

· The Pindrop Foundation is an Aotearoa New Zealand charity supporting access and awareness of cochlear implant technology for adults affected by a severe hearing disability.

· A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that restores hearing for those with profound hearing loss.

· Most people on the waiting list were not born deaf – they lost their hearing as adults. The onset of total and permanent deafness can happen to anyone at any point.

· Hearing aids become ineffective when the hearing loss is more than severe. Communication through spoken language becomes impossible. A cochlear implant is the last and only viable treatment that will restore hearing.

· Public funding for adult cochlear implants in New Zealand first became available in the late 1980’s. However, this consisted of irregular, one-off surgeries (there was no set allocation).

· An initial permanent base level of 20 adult cochlear implants per year was implemented in 2007. This was increased in 2013 to 40 adult cochlear implants and again in 2021 to 120 adults.

· Government funding for children is currently meeting demand

About Cochlear Implant International Community of Action (CIICA)

· CIICA was launched on International Cochlear Implant Day 2021 with the goal of increasing access to cochlear implantation and lifelong services for all those with hearing loss who can benefit.

· CIICA is a membership organisation, with 77 organisations, representing 350 individuals from 48 countries.

· CIICA’s global community of CI advocacy groups provides opportunities to share resources, tools and activities to strengthen the user and family voice to increase access to CI's.

· CIICA LIVE events and CIICA Conversations provide opportunities for our network to share their advocacy challenges and successes, and to inspire each other to action.

Visit www.ciicanet.org

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