It is a shocked fact that deaf people are more likely to suffer ill health than other people, simply because it is harder for them to use the health services that many of us take for granted. Deaf people are twice as likely to have HIV/AIDS infection, high blood pressure, Malnutrition, and other diseases, four times more likely to develop diabetes, HIV/AIDS and generally have a reduced life expectancy. This is unacceptable in our community, additional efforts are needed to bring changes.
Deaf people can be at a disadvantage in making full use of health services in Tanzania. They can find many basic aspects of access difficult, such as making an appointment, understanding how to take their medication, or receiving advice on options for treatment. The rest of the population will take these and other interactions with health professionals for granted.
Recent research into the experiences of Deaf people found that almost half found contact with their general public is ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’, and a third thought it wasn’t worth seeing their general public because communication was poor. The findings and experiences are replicated among all people who experience hearing loss, and with the evidence we collected during this inquiry.
Good communication is probably the singular most vital component of improved access but it continues to be a major barrier. Providers generally seem to lack awareness and understanding of the range of communication support deaf patients in their needs, the options available to address those needs, and how they might make services more accessible to the deaf people.