CHAVITA: Bringing closer health services to people with hearing disabilities

People with hearing disabilities are experiencing a new way of life after some healthcare providers have attended sign language training. The short course was conducted by the Tanzania Deaf Association (CHAVITA), Tabora Branch.

CHAVITA branch chairman Ramadhan Rajab told the FCS correspondent that the sign language project for health care providers marked a big milestone for people with hearing disabilities in  accessing health services. The project has so far covered some 53 health facilities in Tabora Region. It was funded by the Foundation for Civil Society.

“The situation now is better. People with hearing disabilities are also happy. It was previously difficult for them to communicate with health workers,” Rajab said.

Rajab said they had concentrated on providing sign language training to health workers at both the Regional Government Hospital and Milambo Military Hospital. “We did this because these two facilities are pillars of healthcare in Tabora Region,” he says.

Dr. Joel Hoza of Kitete Regional Hospital said the training had helped quite a lot because they lacked the required knowledge on how to properly handle the deaf patients.

"One such difficulty was how to inquire the health history and symptoms from a deaf person in relation to the illness and then decide on the required treatment. The training has helped show us the way to communicate with the deaf," said Dr. Hoza. He added:

"Here in Tabora, we have Kazima Secondary School, which has some deaf students. These come to our hospital for treatment. One day, after I had attended the sign language training, three female students came here.  I told them to use sign language. They were quite excited. They requested us to place a person a teach unit who could communicate through sign language," says Dr. Hoza

Referring to the difficulty of learning sign language, Margret Kanola, a health worker at Kitete Hospital, says it was rather challenging to grasp it because there was hardly sufficient time to practice it on daily basis.

"Learning sign language at adult age is even more challenging. We are trying to cope and are somehow improving on each coming day," she says.

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