In the lead up to last month’s election, Scott Morrison and the Liberal party announced the government would pledge $30 Million AUD over the next 4 years towards programs tackling Indigenous hearing health.
The funding will be delivered through the government’s comprehensive Hearing Assessment Program, and services will be provided through the Department of Health and Australian Hearing.
The program aims to streamline hearing service delivery for children and their families and will target mainly at rural and remote communities where the risk of avoidable deafness is higher.
The Morrison Government also announced an additional $200,000 in funding in 2018-19 to train health professionals in delivering tympanometry to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
We’ve talked before about the hard work being done in this area. The promise of new funding to help tackle hearing problems among Australia’s indigenous populations is welcome news. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
World Health Organisation considers it a crisis
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), otitis media or ‘glue ear’ is a massive public health problem amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Children from Australian Aboriginal populations have the highest rates of infection, worldwide. They’re calling it a crisis.
Compared with the non-Indigenous population, otitis media occurs earlier and more frequently among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and the impacts are often more severe. Some studies have shown that Indigenous children are 5 times more likely to develop the condition.
Current medical interventions, such as ongoing antibiotic prescription, vaccination programs, and health check programs have not had any major effect in combating the issue.
According to Liberal Minister, Ken Wyatt, the newly funded programs will focus on “providing timely fitting of hearing devices for those children who need them.”
What is ‘glue ear’ or otitis media?
Otitis media or ‘glue ear’ occurs when liquid is trapped inside the middle ear. Taking on a thick, glue-like consistency. Symptoms include pressure or pain in the ear, trouble sleeping, balance issues and difficulty hearing. Otitis media often follows repeated middle-ear infections, and children living with smokers face a higher risk of contracting the infection.
Worried about your child’s hearing?
Regular hearing checks are a vital part of monitoring and maintaining your child’s hearing health. Hearing problems can be responsible for a range of issues which impact a child’s quality of life, including learning difficulties and language development.
We know that seeing you is the key to better hearing. If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing health, don’t hesitate. Chat with one of our friendly experts today or call us to schedule an appointment.