By Chidimma Ajemba
Awka, June 30 2022. The Deaf Women Aloud Initiative(DWAI) a Non-Governmental Organisation advocating and amplifying the voice of Deaf Women and Girls in Nigeria has officially unveiled the Deaf Inclusive Sexual Health (DISH) program in Awka.
Delivering her address of welcome, the executive director of DWAI and the convener of the event Mrs Hellen Anurika Beyioku- Alase decried that majority of deaf women in Nigeria do not access sexual and reproductive health services because of communication barriers.
” As a mother of four, I never had the opportunity to attend antenatally or post natal care because I wasn’t aware of its importance because of the lack of sign language interpreters in our hospitals.”
Mrs Beyioku revealed that the issue of communication barriers between health practitioners and deaf women has brought about misdiagnoses, mistreatment and poor health care.
In his goodwill message, the chairman of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Anambra Chapter, Comeade Ugochukwu Okeke appreciated DWAI for bringing such a program to Anambra.
“Persons with disabilities especially deaf women are worst hit by post covid effect and find it difficult to access health facilities.
Comrade Ugochukwu Okeke further suggested that sign language interpreters be employed in at least general hospitals.
The chairman/CEO of the Anambra State Disability Rights Commission, Bar Chukwuka Ezewuzie proposed that sign language be included in the school curriculum both in primary and secondary schools.
” If we can learn sign language individually the issue of language barrier experienced by the deaf community would have been solved”
The commissioner of women and social welfare, Hon Ify Obinabor in her remarks urged deaf women to always speak out whenever they are abused or molested.
” I can assure you that the ministry will take up any abuse or violation cases reported to us, so if you see something say something“
The high point of the event was the official launch of the Deaf Inclusive Sexual Health Project by Anambra Health Commissioner, Dr Afam Obidike, drama by Anambra Deaf Women and experience sharing.