Kevin Farmer

Springborg promises $7.8 million for cochlear implants

MORE than 100 children and adults awaiting life-changing cochlear implants will have the procedure fast-tracked in the next financial year.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has allocated an extra $5.8 million to provide implants to the 119 patients with moderate to profound hearing loss who are currently on the waiting list.

He said another $2 million, found through restructuring Queensland Health, would be set aside to deliver cochlear implants to 22 children.

"The current waiting time for such an implant is about three to four years and that is just too long to wait for this life-enhancing, life-changing procedure," he said.

"This extra funding will mean all people currently on the cochlear implant waiting list should be able to receive their implants during the 2013-14 financial year."

The electronic, surgically-implanted device lets users experience sounds as they occur by sending electrical signals to the nerve endings in the inner ear (called the cochlea).

About 13% of the Australian population has a degree of hearing loss, while up to two in every 1000 children are born with a hearing loss or developed a loss. Others develop hearing loss in early childhood.

Australian scientist Professor Graeme Clark began research into cochlear implants in the 1960s, is recognised as the father of the bionic ear.

An Australian man was the world's first recipient of such in implant in 1978.