As Ireland’s Health Minister, Dr James Reilly, prepares to finalise his health budget for 2014, he is under huge social, economic and political pressure to include bilateral cochlear implants for children in his financial calculations.
Sound Advice’s message to Minister Reilly
These three points are critical. Particularly number one.
- Infants need to hear, to learn to talk. Hearing and speech synergise. You can’t learn to talk if you don’t hear well. Governments don’t “get” this.
- Infants with hearing issues and no early intervention are known as million-dollar babies in costing US states up to $1 million apiece over a lifetime in education, lost wages and health issues. (Source: Massachusetts Hearing-Aid Coalition for Children, 2012).
- Steady hearing-device use in babies builds listening-and-speaking skills. With this intervention, children can start preschool talking like their peers.
Provision of early-hearing and verbal-teaching underpins what audiologists say:
There may be no other example in healthcare in which an emergency is identified but proactive, early treatment is not aggressively pursued.
Early-Years Hearing + Speech Investment Pays
Children have a right to the best possible hearing and speech services. They become fully equipped to receive a quality education and to work as full, tax-paying citizens on their own merit. Long-term thinking is needed here.
Happy New Ear Parent Campaign
In 2013, the Happy New Ear campaign has been pivotal in seeking bilateral (both-ear) cochlear implants for babies and children with profound deafness.
The seed of this campaign began in late 2012 when IDK noted parents’ concerns about service delays, before a letter-writing campaign to Dr Reilly and the spin-out of the Happy New Ear campaign from IDK’s Facebook page.
@irishdeafkids It’s where it all started!!
— Happy New Ear (@HappyNewEar2013) April 30, 2013
Bilateral implantation in children
To recap on the campaign’s progress, let’s recall how bilateral implants benefit eligible children. Sound Advice wrote “Bilateral Cochlear Implants: Hearing With Two Ears” last March, and here’s a post by a parent, Adrian Sexton:
The government debates cited here, received national media coverage:
Decisions on national healthcare hang in the balance – but Minister Reilly has a sound business case for bilateral cochlear implantation in children.
- Newborn Hearing Tests And AVT Give A Solid Start
- Early Implants Best For Baby’s Language Progress
- Ten Commandments For Kids With Hearing Issues
- Bilateral Cochlear Implants: Hearing With Two Ears
- Bilateral Implant Wait List Concerns Irish Parents
- ‘Happy New Ear’ To The HSE From A Parent Group
- Newborn Hearing Test Follow-Up ‘Has Shortfalls’
- Families To Write To The Health Minister On Implants
- “There Are Other Educational Choices Available” (by the Sexton family)
- How New Zealand’s Hearing Tests Lead To Early Intervention
- A TeleAudiology Program With Lessons For Ireland