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, the New Zealand-based hearing loss charity announced.
This year, the government allocated a one-off national funding boost of $6.5 million for the adult cochlear implant programs, which has helped address the long wait times experienced by many adults, according to the announcement.
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 according to Pindrop, the demand is said to continue to exceed the availability of implants, meaning waiting times of two years will continue to be the norm for many adults.
Lee Schoushkoff, CEO of the Pindrop Foundation said, “The additional one-off funding of $6.5 million this year was a welcome boost to the adult cochlear implant programs 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 said, “With disabling hearing loss, suddenly your whole life just starts to get smaller and smaller until you’re in this little pigeonhole 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 four months for surgery.
Roanna Mowbray, a cochlear implant user and audiologist said, “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.
Source: Pindrop Foundation