Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams, speaking during Leaders Questions this morning in the Dáil, raised with the Taoiseach the lack of funding for deaf children who need cochlear implants.
The Sinn Féin leader urged the Taoiseach to move speedily to resolve this health issue.
Teachta Adams said: “The government has the solution. The amount of money involved is relatively small, even in these straightened times. All that is required is political will by the government.”
The Louth TD welcomed the Taoiseach’s commitment to come to this issue positively and to instruct the Minister for Health to discuss with Beaumont Hospital and the HSE the business plan that Beaumont has produced on cochlear implants.
In his contribution at Leaders Questions Teachta Adams referred to the case of four year old Billy, from Dundalk, who was born profoundly deaf. Billy wasn’t diagnosed until he was 17 months. He was two and a half before he was given a Cochlear Implant. His mammy tells how he cried when they switched it on.
Teachta Adams said: “The transformation in Billy’s life is one example of how modern technology can improve lives.
“However, inadequate funding means that in this state children only receive one implant. Internationally it is considered best practice to implant both ears. Indeed even the HSE accepts that this is best practice.
“The cost of a single implant is between €18,000 and €20,000. Provision of only one implant limits a child’s ability to distinguish where noises are coming from, limits their ability to hear in busy or noisy places like shopping centres, classrooms, or places like this Dáil on occasion.
“The problem is that as the child grows the nerves to which the implant should be connected die if they are not being used. The hope of a further implant is lost.
“These children are in a race against time. This treatment is hugely important for them and for other children who are born deaf. It can help these children reach their full potential.”
Note to Editor:
For more information join the families’ campaign at Happy New Ear on Facebook.