AfNHi youth cohort mentorship team members came together to share the status of disability inclusion In the countries they hail from especially In terms of sexual reproductive health and rights information access. Global research suggests that persons with disabilities face barriers when accessing health care services. Yet, information regarding the nature of these barriers, especially in low-income and middle-income countries is sparse.
Much as there’s no accurate data on disability numbers and figures, it is important to note that sexual reproductive health rights and services is an important context on information and informed choice making that every young person regardless of their disability should have. In as much as today and now we may not have any visible form of disability, it is important to note that each and every one of us is a second away from getting disability as much as we are only focusing on advocacy in general, there’s need to work around Sexual Reproductive Health rights (SRHR) and HIV infection figures across all youth categories.
In the discussion it was mentioned how in rural South Africa such as Madwaleni , persons with disabilities faced significantly more barriers to accessing health care compared to persons without disabilities. Barriers increased with disability severity and was reduced with increasing level of education, living in a household without disabled members and with age.In the urban cities such as Johannesburg , Gcobisa Madololo informed the team that there are few youths’ friendly facilities that specifically deal with people with disabilities however most facilities are inaccessible for persons with disabilities as they do not have ramps, as well as ill treatments from health providers. This is a major issue that is neglected by advocates and organizations working around SRHR service access and information.
Dr Patrick Sseremba from Uganda mentioned how while undergoing his medical training, he never came across an instance where he interacted with a person with disability during service provision, not until his private practice. In his current work practice he mentions how challenging it is to offer services to these category as for instance when those below the age of consent come for a service, their parents/guardians and caretakers often fail to relay accurate challenges that these young clients face making it hard to diagnose.In most scenarios of clients with speech and hearing disabilities, he mentions how often the caretakers speak different languages as some fail to communicate in sign language with these persons with disability.
Given the context of medical curriculum of medical students, often these health workers in the end do have the opportunity to study sign language in their curriculum making it hard for them to communicate with their patients with speech and hearing disability when they come for service.
Victoria Quaynor from Ghana submitted with regards to the cost of communication and how it is considered expensive to communicate with persons with speech and hearing disabilities as it is important to break down the messages to consumable information for these persons as well as have sign language interpreters to relay and bridge the communication gap.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is a human rights instrument on an international level intended to protect persons with disabilities’ dignity and rights. Eight guiding principles underlie the Convention, of which accessibility is one . Health care needs that are not met and that exacerbate health disparities are experienced disproportionately by persons with disabilities.
This cohort believes that it is important to integrate disability inclusion and sign language interpretation in sexual reproductive health care and rights advocacy especially in our community outreaches and implementation programs if we really are to contribute towards universal access to health care and leave no one behind.
Compiled by ;
Winnie Akidi (Uganda) AfNHi Youth Cohort Mentorship Member