The National Foundation for the Deaf has released a major report on the economic impact and cost of hearing loss in New Zealand. It can be found here.
The cost to individuals and society of hearing loss is plainly huge. Hearing loss disconnects people from other people. There is strong research pointing to neurological deterioration where there is a lack of person to person communication.
Cochlear implants are a key treatment for hearing loss. In New Zealand the government funds 40 implants per year for adults. However this is not even enough to keep up with the numbers of adults in our ageing population who are referred for such treatment and do meet the very tight criteria. In short, in New Zealand the waiting list for cochlear implants is growing by the day.
New Zealand’s strict and limited criteria prevents numerous adults from benefiting from cochlear implants. These adults are left to languish in isolation with the resulting poor health and quality of life outcomes.
The current funding for adult cochlear implants needs to be doubled from 40 to 80 implants per year urgently. Reports like this show that this investment up front is well worth it.