Being able to hear in only one ear is not good enough for any child – and the Government is about to hear all about it. 2ears2hear is a group advocating for the provision of two cochlear implants for deaf children. The Ministry of Health currently funds only a single implant per child.
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that is surgically implanted, giving a profoundly deaf person a sense of sound. It is made up of internal and external parts, with a processor that sits behind the ear and an implant that sits inside the ear.
"There needs to be a political decision recognising that children, in particular, need to hear with two ears," 2ears2hear spokesman Sym Gardiner says. Representatives from the group will meet with the Ministry of Health and the contract manager for cochlear implant programmes next week. The Ministry of Health says it funds only one implant in order to make the most of the funding that is available. Funding one implant instead of two enables the ministry to provide implants for the maximum number of people possible, it says.
But Mr Gardiner says the money needed to fund two implants would be "loose change" for the Government. While he's "reasonably hopeful", Mr Gardiner says he wants to stay realistic. He thinks that targeting pre-lingual children initially, before moving on to those who already have one implant, is a good idea.
"You need to stop making mess for starters. So all your new implants, do them as two. Then come back and clean up," he says.