May 2021 Scoop.co.nz

The team at The Hearing House celebrates the Government's announcement of increased funding for adults who need cochlear implants. CEO Dr Claire Green says: "It is fantastic news for people of New Zealand who struggle under the burden of significant hearing loss. Access to sound through technologies and rehabilitation can result in a richer and fuller quality of life. Every day we see the positive outcomes of cochlear implants and the work we do. Our clients benefit from improved relationships, and an increase in their physical and mental wellbeing," she says.

In today’s Budget an extra $28 million will be injected into adult cochlear implant programmes over four years beginning in 2021/22. This almost doubles the number of people across the country receiving cochlear implants from 86 to 166 per year.

Claire says The Hearing House is grateful for the work that has been done advocating the need for more adult cochlear implant funding. "There are people on our waiting lists who have waited years for a cochlear implant. Today's announcement should give many of our waiting recipients a real sense of hope that they will access sound again."

Dr Amanda Kvalsvig is an infectious disease epidemiologist working on the country’s Covid-19 response. She is also profoundly deaf and has a cochlear implant – without it, she could not do her job. “Having people wait for a cochlear implant for years and years is a terrible waste of human potential. There are so many of us who have so much to give,” says Amanda. “I don’t think many people understand the impact of losing your hearing on your sense of belonging, your sense of purpose, even your sense of identity. It’s not just interactions with strangers of course – it’s your own family. I had no idea what my children’s voices sounded like.”

Until this budget, the baseline funding available was for 40 adults nationally. In February, the Government injected $6 million in a one-off payment towards the New Zealand cochlear implant programme. The Hearing House Clinical Director Holly Teagle says: "Those funds have allowed us to give 35 more people on our programme access to sound again - and the improved quality of life that comes with this."

Claire, Holly and The Hearing House team welcome today's announcement, which confirms Labour's pre-election manifesto commitment to double the number of cochlear implants each year from 80 to 160 during this parliamentary term. "It is a positive acknowledgement of the value of the cochlear implant programme in New Zealand. We look forward to giving more adults access to sound through cochlear implant technology," Claire says

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