In Nigeria, it is a common sight to see a man neglected in government hospital left alone the deaf and other special people. Life is not easy for the deaf when they fall sick but it is worst for women who have cause to visit the hospital for different reasons.
Although people often said that being disable does not necessary mean disability, but deaf women who go to hospital for one reason or the other always face daunting challenges in relating with health workers. Often time, they leave the hospital more frustrated than when they visited and in cases of emergency, they have to carry along interpreters who they pay to help them relate with health workers.
A deaf woman who spoke with LEADERSHIP through an interpreter on their plight Beatrice Azubike, a mother of three said “Whenever I am going to the hospital, I always carry an interpreter, she has to add the cost of hiring an interpreter to help her talk to the doctors and nurses because they don’t understand her whenever she tries to explain her ailment. She also that, there are times she misses her doctor’s appointment when the interpreter is not available to go with her. She also stated that, before she started taking an interpreter along, she used to fight with nurses because they can’t understand her. Even when she writes it, they don’t always take her serious.”
Another deaf woman, Aladi Adikwe from Benue state stated that, life has not been easy for her. She said she use to finds it hard to communicate to some of her relatives unless she writes it down. Adikwe stated that she limits her cycle of friends because of the embarrassment she always feels whenever she had problem expressing her self in the midst of people.
A physician, Dr Bukola Adegoke, the MD of Balm of Gilead clinic, Ado, a suburb of Nassarawa state, who spoke with leadership on the pains deaf women go through in hospitals said “ when deaf women come to the hospital, they tend to be aggressive and impatient because the health workers don’t understand them. But it is not strange because even some parents who are not deaf but gave birth to deaf children often find it difficult to understand their needs and problems, especially when they are sick or emotionally unstable. This has led to the untimely death of many deaf person because sickness that could have been easily identified and treated, if the patients were to be hearing was not detected early because of lack of sign language interpreters in many public and private hospitals. So we always advise them to come along with their interpreter to make communication easier. For those who can acquire hearing aid, they still find difficulty when the appliance disappoint them, but government can make it easy for deaf person by employing interpreters in every sector. There must be a person that can help the deaf communicate in any situation”.
To help deaf women overcome this plight, IPAS, a global non-governmental organization dedicated to ending preventable deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortion in conjunction with Australian AID initiated a Capacity building workshop for leadership of Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN) to facilitate the availability of sign language interpretation within the health system to increase access to reproductive health and other health information and services for deaf women.
Speaking at the event which took place in Abuja, the Country director of IPAS, Hauwa Shekarau stated that “Through a wide-ranging stakeholders meeting in March 2015, DWAN members identified key communications challenges faced by deaf women, because they lack access to information and care regarding their reproductive health”.
According to her, the proximate beneficiaries will include the sign language interpreters who will have their capacity built to provide accurate rights-based information on reproductive health and that, IPAS-trained health providers will also benefit from the project by being able to better understand and address the special needs of these clients.
The FIDA President also stated that, lPAS will provide translation services for deaf women who seek reproductive health services or other health services in selected health facilities by Working with and collaborating with health providers and their support staff to maximize their ability to communicate with deaf clients and provide appropriate and adequate sexual and reproductive health services.
Shekarau further stated that, Work on an on-call basis to provide specific services as needed by the deaf women including but not limited to conducting follow up visits with deaf women to facilities as well as on-going linkages with providers at the facilities so that it will reduce one of the major barriers to health-care access for deaf women as a result of increased sign language interpretation within the health system.