The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) on Tuesday called on government to deploy sign language interpreters into the healthcare delivery system to prevent needless deaths of deaf persons.
The association said many healthcare practitioners in the country did not have training in sign language or had very little knowledge of it and could not communicate effectively with deaf people.
Mr Emmanuel Sackey, National President of GNAD, made the call at an advocacy workshop to develop a workable plan for placement of sign language interpreters in public healthcare institutions.
He said evidence suggests that deaf people were in most cases diagnosed wrongly and given wrong prescriptions, which consequently led to loss of innocent lives, and that, the situation has led to many deaf persons resorting to self-medication because of frustrations.
?If healthcare professionals can learn the basic sign language it will go a long way for deaf people in accessing healthcare.?
Mr Sackey said the first step to ensuring quality healthcare access for deaf persons was for government to put in place policies that would cater for the communication needs of deaf people in line with Article 29 Clause six of the 1992 Constitution, which states that: ?As far as practicable, every place to which the public have access shall have appropriate facilities for disabled persons.?
He said deaf people were unable to establish a strong relationship with primary health care providers due to communication barriers, saying, ?This sometimes results in inadequate comprehension of disease management, poor treatment and a few casualties.?
Mr James Sambian, Executive Director of GNAD, said in order for the Association to address the issues, GNAD presented a proposal to star-Ghana and got a grant to implement a pilot project dubbed ?deaf information and communication access improvement project.?
He said the project would help to sensitize and educate healthcare personnel, policy makers and duty bearers, to effectively understand and appreciate the health needs of deaf people.
He said it would increase the capacity of healthcare personnel to enable them to provide enhanced healthcare services to deaf persons and to advocate for enabling legislation for the enforcement of sign language in public healthcare institutions.
Dr Yaw Nyadu Offei, Senior Lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, said persons with hearing disabilities were still finding it difficult to access basic healthcare, adding that, government has the responsibility to fix structures for People With Disabilities (PWD) to access basic healthcare. ?It is not fair for such Persons to be struggling for basic needs, equally easily available to any other person,? he noted.
Dr Offei said it was within the right of PWDs to demand basic facilities and structures and so nobody should see them as beggars.