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Today the New Zealand Government announced a significant funding boost for adult Cochlear Implants. From a parents of Cochlear Implant children perspective we welcome the government’s announcement. Cochlear Implants provide huge opportunities for recipients. The adult waiting list has been a long term issue that needed addressing.

We now look forward to the government responding to the mounting body of research that points to the need for children to receive two Cochlear Implants. Pre-lingual children in particular need two ears to develop language and catch up with their hearing peers. A similar amount of funding to today’s announcement would fully address this critical situation.

[Press Release Follows]

Hon Tony Ryall

Minister of Health

29 January 2013
Media Statement: More funding for cochlear implants

The number of adults receiving cochlear implants for severe or profound hearing loss is to triple this financial year thanks to an additional $2.6 million of one-off funding.

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf.

“At least 60 adults will receive cochlear implants this financial year – annual funding typically allows for 20 cochlear implants for adults,” says Health Minister Tony Ryall.

“In Budget 2012 we announced one-off funding of $1.3 million for additional cochlear implants and follow-up services for adults and children. We are doubling the one-off funding this year to $2.6 million.

“Currently adults can wait around two years for a cochlear implant however, some wait longer depending on their clinical priority. This extra funding will reduce waiting times for adults and significantly improve the lives of those who receive them,” says Mr Ryall.

“A profoundly deaf woman who received a cochlear implant recently wrote to me about the positive impact it has made in her life.

“In her letter she writes, words suddenly have a purpose again through the renewed ability to interact with people, both socially and professionally. My husband and I have enjoyed two movies without him having to give me running summaries of what was being said. I am happy and excited about hearing sounds again that for so long I have not heard. Simple things like running water from a tap, the click of a light switch, even my own footsteps on our tiles and the sound of birds outside, is just wonderful.”

The total funding for adult and child cochlear implants this financial year is over $8 million. There is no waiting list for implants for children and each year around 30 children and 16 newborns receive a cochlear implant.

Each cochlear implant costs between $45,000 and $55,000. The funded service includes the device, surgery and on-going support including maintenance.

Media contact: Jackie Maher 021 243 7803 or Jannel Carter 027 589 8884

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