The cochlear implant in Cuba, an achievable reality
By Mercy Ramos
The cochlear implant is a surgical technique that allows a small electronic device to be placed in the inner ear that helps deaf people to hear.
With this procedure, people with severe to profound sensorineural deafness are able to hear, since the physical impulses of sound are transformed into electrical energy and directly stimulate the fibers of the cochlear nerve from the snail.
Sixty-four years ago, that is to say on February 25, 1957, a first procedure was carried out in this sense, when French doctors André Djourno and Charles Eyries inserted a copper wire into the cochlea of a 50-year-old male patient, who suffered from total deafness, the result of which was that the patient managed to perceive the rhythm of language.
Hence, that date was adopted as International Cochlear Implant Day. At present, it is estimated internationally, that the cost of the cochlear implant amounts to around 16 thousand euros.
However, in Cuba this procedure is carried out free of charge to anyone who requires it, which shows the altruism of the health system of the largest of the Antilles.
The first experiences of this type of surgery on the island emerged in 1997, but it was in late 2004 and early 2005, when the National Cochlear Implant Program was installed at the initiative of the Leader of the Cuban revolution, then President Fidel Castro.
In these 16 years, 510 deaf patients in Cuba have managed to recover their lost hearing without spending a single cent, becoming one of the many achievements of the island’s health system.
International Cochlear Implant Day began to be celebrated in 2009, when associations and society in general began to echo this important advance in the sciences. Today, the day is celebrated in over 60 countries with events of all kinds.