Ministers James Reilly, Kathleen Lynch and Alex White have all stated in the last week that the programme for bilateral cochlear implants is a priority. Despite months of positive comments about its introduction no Government Minister has given any commitment to approve the funding to introduce the programme.
Last week’s debate in the Dáil heard many TDs on all sides of the house agreeing in principle with the need to introduce this programme. Parents of children born with hearing problems and profound deafness from the campaign group Happy New Ear were present at that debate. They went home yet again without any answers or commitment from those Ministers who claim that it is a priority for them.
It is time to stop stringing along these parents who have had to become full time campaigners in order to get a commitment from the government to provide a fund of €7 million to launch the programme at a yearly running cost of €4 million. Compared to the BILLIONS given away to failed bankers this is a drop in the ocean.
Minister Lynch herself at a meeting of the health committee this year stated that “it’s a no brainer.” And she is correct it is a no brainer and here’s why:
- There are a relatively small number of children effected around 200 children are currently waiting for implants.
- The cost to the state is relatively small.
- The longer the delay in starting the programme the bigger the backlog will be and therefore the cost.
- The alternative of sending children to the U.K. to have the procedure would be more costly, inconvenient and unnecessary when there is a unit in Beaumont Hospital where this can be successfully carried out.
- Two is better than one, bilateral implants are recognised as best practice across Europe.
- The benefit to the children is vast for their speech development, socialisation, safety, their future and their confidence.
- The Failure of a single implant leaves the child in silence, this is a traumatic experience for a child who does not know what is happening.
- There is a short window of opportunity in which a child can receive bilateral implants. If the nerve is not stimulated it will die. If the second ear does not receive auditory input during this critical period of cortical development, later technology no matter how advanced will only provide input to a cortex incapable of receiving it.
Oh yeah and because EVERY CHILD MATTERS, delays are unacceptable the Department of Health need to show some political will and just do it.