Deaf Woman Aloud Initiative, sponsored by HIVOS and We Lead, recently held a stakeholder’s strategic cum town hall meeting, the Deaf Inclusive Sexual Health (DISH), at Cien villa Luxury Hotel, Awka.
In a welcome address, the executive director of DWAI , Helen AnurikaBeyioku- Alase explained that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRH) is a key component to achieving universal health coverage which word Health Organisation (WHO) believes that SRH is a game changer in countries developing policies to ensure equitable access to healthcare services.
MrsBeyioku, also said that universal health coverage clearly stated that everyone irrespective of who they are, must have a right to access healthcare services, especially women with disabilities without encountering any form of barrier. She lamented that it is quite unfortunate that deaf women don’t have access to health care services because of communication barriers, stigmatisation and discrimination.
She commended the Nigeria government and Anambra State government for the effort towards passing the Disability Rights Act into law, which stipulates that all states parties, government and private institutions across the country should recognise the rights of persons with disabilities, including deaf women/ girls, access to information with the help of professional sign language interpreters in all facets of life and facilitate their accessibility to healthcare and sexual reproductive information and services.
Beyioku pleaded for everyone’s effort in curbing the maltreatment being meted to persons living with disabilities including deaf women and girls.
The traditional ruler of Amansea, IgweEzeNwata, applauded persons with disabilities including DWAI, describing them as the most creative minds ever and urged others who are still begging on the street to emulate those who are adding value to themselves.
He stated that the traditional rulers in the state will see a way of initiating programmes that will tremendously favour and uplift the the living standard of persons with disabilities and DWAI.
Chairman of Anambra State Disability Rights Commission,rChuksEzewuzie, appreciated the director, DWAI for the initiative of bringing in projects that will benefit the Deaf community in the state.
Outlining what the ANDRC can do to ensure total access to sexual reproductive health for the deaf community in the state, especially women and young girls, Ezewuzie noted that SRH must include protection against sexual violence.
National Vice President of Anambra State Association of Town Unions, Comrade IkechukwuOforkansi, noted that it is important for communities to stop stigmatisation of deaf women as well as other persons with disability.
Chariman, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Anambra State Council, DrEmekaOdugwuEmeka, represented by MrsIjeoma, revealed that the NUJ shares in the pain of persons living with disabilities, especially the deaf women among them.
He emphasised on the need to get Interpreters for them to be participating in any program. “The NUJ will look into the challenges of the deaf and try to see how they can help by organising a training for the interpreters.
Esther Emele, a deaf woman from Anambra, narrated how unkind she was treated at the hospital during her first pregnancy, ” i never knew there is something called ante-natal care which pregnant women need. During my delivery, i was left at the hospital without any medical treatment. I bled and lost my child and since then till now, i have not taken in because i think something is wrong but no one to help me in the hospital due to my inability to speak”.
Chairman of Anambra State Association of the deaf, AmobiNwagwu, commended the organisers of the program and everyone who graced the ocassion, adding that government and the communities should not discriminate against persons living with disabilities including deaf women and that they need more Interpreters in order to get involved in everything.
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