Mrs Helen Beyioku-Alase, the Chairperson, Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN), Abuja chapter, has underscored the need to provide sign language interpreters in healthcare facilities across the country.
Beyioku-Alase made the call at a medical outreach organised to mark the 4th Edition of Deaf Women Health Awareness Week in Abuja.
She also appealed to state governments and other stakeholders to help in alleviating the challenges confronting deaf women.
“A lot of deaf women cannot access healthcare services in hospitals because of communication challenge and the absence of sign language interpreters.
“This medical outreach is an opportunity for deaf women to have access to medical services and information to enhance their well-being.
“We appeal to governments and other stakeholders to help in providing sign language interpreters in healthcare facilities to alleviate the challenges deaf women are facing in the country.”
She stressed that healthcare was everyone’s right regardless of their health status.
The chairperson said that the association, under the medical outreach, had provided sexual and reproductive healthcare services to over 90 deaf women in Abuja.
She said this was part of efforts to commemorate the UN International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
She said that the outreach was organised by DWAN and supported by some non-governmental organisations including Society for Family Health, Ipas, and Creative Visions Development Foundation.
In her reaction, a deaf woman, Mrs Bridget Bolaji, said through a sign language interpreter, that she was very happy to have benefitted from the medical outreach.
According to her, the information on family planning, diabetes, dental hygiene and HIV/AIDS were very comprehensive.
“I understand better with a sign language interpreter and the explanations by the medical personnel were very educative. I am highly impressed with this programme.
“I wish all hospitals in the country have this kind of set-up to help our fellow deaf women access medical care and information,” Bolaji said.
Another beneficiary, Miss Deborah Ondaka, noted that the absence of sign language interpreters in hospitals posed a serious challenge for deaf women in accessing healthcare.
“DWAN has done well by bringing this initiative; but my worry is that it is a one day exercise. I wish it will be regular.
“However, I also call on stakeholders to help provide more sign language interpreters at all hospitals in the country to help us access medical services,” Ondaka said.
Earlier in her address, the National President of DWAN, Mrs Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase, advised the members to adhere to the medical advice being provided so that they would be healthy to take care of themselves, their children and families.
“I am a deaf woman and I also have sight challenge; that’s why I am wearing medicated glasses and I sometime have malaria.
“I have come to accept my deafness and urge you to do same. There are health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and others.
“I want you to adhere to the medical advice that you will get here; use it so that you can be healthy to take care of yourself, children and family,” she said.