Today’s announcement by Minister of Health Andrew Little, committing the Government to raising the number of publicly-funded adult cochlear implants, has been welcomed by New Zealand’s two cochlear implant providers.

The Government announced today that it will immediately invest $6 million for 70 additional adult cochlear implants this year, to help reduce the waiting list.

In the same announcement the Minister of Health also committed the Government to fulfilling its pre-election pledge this term, which means investing an extra $28 million (over four years) toward adult cochlear implants. If implemented, an additional 80 adults each year would receive access to this life-changing technology.

Southern Cochlear Implant Programme (SCIP) chief executive, Neil Heslop says today’s announcement will be life-changing for the 70 adults who will now receive a cochlear implant.

“At its current level, New Zealand’s adult cochlear implant funding is one of the lowest in the OECD[1], with only 40 adults nationally receiving government funding for a cochlear implant every year.

“There are currently 269 adults on the waiting list, and by the end of the year this number is expected to increase by 40 percent. Base funding hasn’t changed in seven years, despite waiting list numbers compounding.

“While we welcome the one-off $6 million funding boost, we are very mindful of the nearly 200 adults who will still remain on the waiting list – and this number will only continue to increase.

“The next step is to ensure that those hundreds of adults who are stuck in a silent prison – unable to work, hear their children or contribute to society – will have the same opportunity to restore their previously productive lives.”

Northern Cochlear Implant Programme chief executive Lee Schoushkoff agreed. “We look forward to hearing from the Government about a long-term, sustainable funding arrangement to give those waiting not just the ability to plan, but also to give hope that one day they will hear again.”

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