Cochlear Implants for China’s Kids?

One year ago, Cochlear Corp. announced that they received a substantial order of implants for China. A substantial order worth $270 Million!! The order was placed by a Taiwanese Philanthropist who wishes to help the people of China. So what does this all mean for the deaf children of China?

Well, if you take a hard look at the numbers, not much. If you do the math you will see that not many deaf Chinese children will be helped, although it is at least a start.

There are approximetaly 800,000 deaf children in China, according to an official Chinese government source. According to initial estimates this order will be able to implant 15,000 children over the next 6 years. That comes out to a mere 2% of all Deaf children in China that will receive implants from this order!!! (In Europe and the U.S. the percentage of children is nearly 40%.) Obviously, the high cost of the implant is what prevents more children from getting one. In addition, there is a severe shortage of hearing and language experts to help the implanted children after they receive their implants. Although Cochlear states that they are working on this, it is not clear how they will be able to address this massive problem.

Although we are fortunate to live in an age where technological advances have been made to bring hearing to the deaf, sadly, not many of the world’s deaf children will be able to participate.

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1 Comment »

  1. Lynda said

    Indeed, the technology is expensive, prohibitively so for many in the world. But why all the complaining? I think it is wonderful that this donation was made. 15,000 is a lot more than the zero who would have been helped otherwise. And it is a big number if you consider that currently there are probably around 150,000 cochlear implant users worldwide total.

    I have heard that biomedical engineers in India and China are also developing cochlear implants. Here is an article from India:
    http://www.hindu.com/2005/11/25/stories/2005112502220900.htm

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