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Budget 2014: Two funded cochlear implants for children

Health Minister Tony Ryall has announced children with profound hearing loss will now receive two funded cochlear implants, and children under six with only one implant will be offered the opportunity to have a second funded implant.

“Budget 2014 is providing an extra $6.3 million over four years for a bilateral cochlear implants programme for children,” says Mr Ryall.

“Under the current policy, children with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears receive one funded cochlear implant. This new funding will mean from the 1 July 2014 such children will receive two implants.

“A single implant has been the standard treatment for children with profound hearing loss. International best practice has changed and the Ministry of Health has updated their policy as a result.

“$2.1 million has been set aside to provide a funded second implant to children under six who have already received a single implant through the cochlear programme.

“Some families have already privately funded a second implant for their child. We will provide these children with free follow up services, such as repairs, replacement speech processors and spare batteries.

“In addition to the $6.3 million for children’s bilateral cochlear implants, there will also be a one-off $1.1 million funding boost to reduce the wait list for adults requiring cochlear implants.”

Around 86 people receive cochlear implants each year. Up to 16 are infants, 30 are children aged 2-18 years and 40 are adults. There is no waiting list for implants for children.

Note to reporters: The decision to offer a second implant only to children under six is for clinical reasons. International evidence suggests a second implant is less effective and less tolerated by older children who have used a single implant for a long period.

Media contact: Jannel Carter – 027 589 8884

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