In response to the World Health Organisation’s World Report on Hearing calling for global action on hearing loss to achieve hearing care for all through screening, rehabilitation and communication initiatives, the Pindrop Foundation is running a health promotion campaign aimed at breaking down the information barriers about cochlear implants for adults. 

The World Health Organisation report highlighted that 430 million adults have a disabling hearing loss, of which, 53 million could benefit from a cochlear implant. Yet only 1 in 20 adults who could benefit from a cochlear implant has one. To address this poor access rate, the first ever international consensus paper on the use of cochlear implants for adults was released last year.

One of the key findings from the consensus paper was a universal lack of awareness about the benefits of cochlear implants for adults. Cochlear Implant surgeon and chairman of the Northern Cochlear Implant Programme Advisory Board, Michel Neeff, says, “The level of awareness about the benefits of cochlear implantation is poor, even with ENT Surgeons and Audiologists not always aware when a patient should be referred. Physicians, GPs and aged care workers are ideally placed to identify patients early.

“As a general rule, once a patient is unable to communicate on a mobile phone with an appropriate hearing aid in place a referral for a cochlear implant assessment is appropriate. The implant programmes are aiming to simplify the referral process to make access for an assessment easier.”

The Pindrop Foundation’s health promotion campaign is aimed at primary health care providers to help improve the identification of adults who are no longer deriving any benefit from their hearing aids and who may benefit from a cochlear implant. 

The campaign includes an information resource toolkit with awareness video’s, webinar’s, client stories, referral and eligibility guidelines, in addition to educational information being showcased across Primary Health Clinics and DHB’s over the course of March, featuring Health TV segments, mediboard information posters and flyers, and NZ Doctor advertorials.

Lee Schoushkoff, CEO of the Northern Cochlear Implant Trust says, “On International Cochlear Implant Day, 25 February, the New Zealand government announced an additional $6 million investment for this financial year to enable a further 70 adults living with a disabling hearing loss to get an implant. In addition, they reaffirmed their election promise to bring the number of implants available for adults up to 160 per year.

“This will be a game changer in New Zealand and that’s why it is also important that health professionals know about cochlear implants so that they can be having those conversations with their patients early on about their options. They should not be left until their lives are falling apart before getting a cochlear implant. That’s simply not OK.”

For more information on cochlear implants for adults in New Zealand, please visit: www.pindrop.org.nz.

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