Deaf patients receive poor health care in Ghana

The inability of doctors and nurses to understand and interpret sign language is leading to wrong prescriptions of medicines for deaf persons, according to the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD). As a result, many expectant mothers who are deaf are losing their lives, the association says. James M. Sambian, Executive Director of GNAD, says a lack of sign language interpreters was resulting in inappropriate diagnosis and preventable death.In addition, many deaf persons are forced to hire private sign language interpreters in order to access quality health care. He also notes that deaf individuals are discriminated against when trying to access health cards, visit consulting rooms and gain access to information on reproductive health. Sambian appealed to the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to train sign language interpreters and make them available at regional and district health centres. “The government should, as matter of policy, sponsor health personnel to study sign language interpretation,” he says. As interim measure, Sambian has suggested the Ghana Health Service train nurses in sign language interpretation to address “the silent ordeal deaf persons go through in various health centres”.

Source: Ghana National Association of the Deaf Baycrest Health Sciences