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New Zealand has a small but growing and vibrant community of cochlear implant users. For the last few years (20122013 and 2014) we have published a snapshot of the numbers of cochlear implant users. This is useful for a whole pile of purposes including policy setting, reporting, costing and, most importantly, an awareness for users that there are others travelling the same road as them.

The numbers are as at 30th June 2015. This is the close of the funding period used by the Ministry of Health.

We have broken the observations into two groups. This is to reflect the two funding streams provided by the government.

Children/Paediatric (0-18yo)

The key observations for children are:

  • There are now 397 children with cochlear implants, up from 376 last year. This is a 5.6% increase.
  • Of the 397 children, 166 or 42% have bilateral cochlear implants. This is up 58 from 108 last year – a 54% increase.

Looking at the age ranges:

  • 28 out of 33 (85%) 0-2yos have bilaterals – was 21 out of 30 (70%) last year
  • 33 out of 39 (85%) 3-4yos have bilaterals – was 17 out of 38 (45%) last year
  • 43 out of 71 (61%) 5-7yos have bilaterals – was 29 out of 70 (41%) last year
  • 62 out of 254 (24%) 8-18yos have bilaterals – was 41 out of 238 (17%) last year

There has been an obvious impact from the government’s bilateral cochlear implant announcement. This took effect on the 1 July 2014 and means all new children getting cochlear implants get bilaterals (if they are clinically appropriate). The announcement also meant that all clinically suitable under 6yo children with only one cochlear implant were offered a second. The 85% figure probably reflects the instances where bilaterals are clinically appropriate. It is likely that next year the 5-7yo cohort will increase towards this 85% figure as well as the younger children roll through.

Looking at the two paediatric audiology programmes, The Hearing House providing the northern programme and the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme (SCIP) providing the southern programme, there have been some interesting changes.

  • Northern have 86 bilateral kids out of 201 kids (43%). Last year it was 60 out of 197 (31%).
  • Southern have 80 bilateral kids out of 196 kids (41%). Last year it was 48 out of 179 (27%).

The southern programme have grown their number of children by 17 in the last 12 months. The northern programme have grown by just 4 during the same time period. Each have very similar paediatric programme sizes now. Both have seen significant increases in bilaterals.

Over all in the last 12 months the numbers of children with CIs grew by 21 and the number of children with bilaterals grew by 58.

Adult

The adult programmes have continued to grow through the base funding and roll over of children into the adult programmes.

The key observations for adults are:

  • There are now 845 adults with cochlear implants, up from 777 last year. This is a 8.8% increase.
  • There are 21 bilateral adults up from 17 last year.

The adult programmes continue to grow as fast as funding allows. Additional one off funding has been substantially less this year meaning the growth in adult CI numbers has halved compared to last year. Currently there is significant pent up demand on the waiting lists with no obvious solution in sight.

There is no discernible movement towards bilaterals yet with adult users in the numbers. However anecdotally there is a growing realisation that for some jobs (teachers being an example) bilateral cochlear implants are highly desirable.

Overall

There are now 1242 cochlear implant users in New Zealand. This is up 89 from last year. This is about the same as what the base government funding provides for (46 child plus 40 adults implants).

Raw data is included in this spreadsheet – 2015 CI Numbers

Note: The NCIP adult numbers are publicly funded clients only. SCIP adult numbers include all client numbers.

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