To enable easy access to healthcare, the Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN) has launched a project on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) called Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER).
The Chairperson of DWAN Abuja chapter Mrs. Hellen Beyioku-Alase, disclosed this Wednesday in Abuja during the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop tittled “Improving Deaf Women Access to SRHR.
According to Beyioku-Alase, the project which was approved and funded by the US Embassy in Nigeria focusses on senaitization of deaf women and girls, and the training of health care providers on basic health sign-language .
She said the project aims to improve the access to critical health services such as maternity care for deaf women and also educate both deaf women and and health workers on the proviaion of services for deaf women.
” This will be achieved by enabling opportunities to a line of communication between deaf women and health workers that avenues for registering complaints, creating awareness of health service protocols for patients, and other relevant services.
“The project is expected to serve to contribute towards the inclusion of deaf women in particular and Persons Living With Disabilities (PWD’s) in general terms of policy engagement, stakeholder discussions and decision-making by constituting basic avenues for communication as the foundation for dialogue,” she said.
She decried the non-availability of disability-friendly health and specific sign-language information, adding that low sensitization and awareness creation on the issues of sexual and reproductive rights aggravates the challenges faced by deaf women.
” In Nigeria today, many women and women with disabilities across the country are standing up for their rights to make decisions for their health, especially on their sexual and reproductive health rights.
“Unfortunately for deaf women, opportunities to make their own decisions are, sadly, too often absent. Our society believes that deaf women are unfit to make these decisions and leave it to family members, spouses, or medical personnel or government official to make tjem instead,” she said.
“It is expected that at the end of 12 months when the project will elapse, health providers should be able to sign some basic health related words in sign-language and this would enable them to be more prepared towards meeting the special needs of deaf women who visit their facilities,” she said.
Representing the US Mission in Nigeria Public Affairs office, Sophie Savage, said as part of its role to ensuring the wellbeing of its citizens, it also reaches out, educate and engage Nigerians to advocate that persons with disabilities are able to equitably access health facilities.
Earlier, the Policy Consultant for Ipas Doris Ikpeze, stressed the importance of enabling deaf women have access to information bothering on health and reproductive rights.