Hearing week looks to focus on hearing loss issues

By Regan Paranihi

Today is the World Health Organisations Hearing Day and the beginning of Hearing Week which will focus on the importance of hearing loss issues.

Hearing disabilities are a major health issue here in New Zealand that needs to be addressed following the 2016 Deafness Notification Report that showed high rates of hearing disabilities and non-access to technology for Māori than non-Māori.

Cedric Ratima of Ngati Awa is one of many who has suffered from hearing disabilities.

Last year Ratima received a cochlear implant, which is a medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear.

He says since having the implant he’s been on a mission to raise awareness as well as help those is the same position as him.

“Losing one’s hearing is one of the most frightening things that can happen to you and I have concerns for those that are living in this world of silence. Not being able to communicate can lead to embarrassment, loneliness, isolation, and depression.”

He says this has been a life changing experience and has boosted his confidence in many ways.

“My cochlear implant has changed my life, where in the past I have isolated myself to prevent embarrassment and sometimes ridicule. I now have the confidence to stand up in front of others, and even welcomed our local MP to a meeting last week.”

Many remain on the waiting list for a cochlear implant as there is only 40 that are currently funded for adults in New Zealand.

However, Ratima continues to help communities who are affected by severe hearing loss.

“I remain hopeful that earlier intervention and access to cochlear implant technology for others like myself is achievable,” says Ratima.