The Irish government is set to announce the funding of bilateral Cochlear Implants for all children. This will bring Ireland into line with the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, most of the rest of the EU and most states in the US.
Bilateral Cochlear Implants are critical for children learning to hear. For children who have been born without hearing, or lost it very early on, being given only on Cochlear Implant severely limits their ability to develop the full array of hearing functions. A study published last year by Tel Aviv University concluded that if a second Cochlear Implant was added after 6 years, the child will never be able to develop many of the critical sound processing abilities that people with normal hearing take for granted. This has negative safety implications for that child as well as slowing their development in other areas such as social skills and general classroom learning. Long term it has the potential to restrict their ability to fully participate in mainstream society.
In New Zealand the government and Ministry of Health continue to hold the line that one Cochlear Implant is enough for children despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. To rectify this issue on an ongoing basis would cost at the most $3.1m – a drop in the bucket of overall health spending.
We continue to call on the government to provide fully for the needs of these young children. We are failing as a society to meet our basic ‘social contract’ when we only provide one ear to hear. Children need 2ears2hear!