Nakuru County Government will recruit sign language interpreters to be deployed in all sub-county hospitals if the House passes a motion moved by nominated MCA Rose Karugi.
According to Ms Karugi, lack of sign language interpreters is a violation of the constitutional rights of deaf persons.
“The Constitution gives rights and entitlements to persons with disabilities including access to use of sign language, braille or other appropriate means of communication,” said Ms Karugi.
She said that the employment of sign language interpreters is not a favour as there is an Act of Parliament which provides mechanism for ensuring the rights of such persons are upheld and respected.
“Section 20 of the persons with Disability Act of 2003 stipulates that field medical personnel should be deployed in local health institutions to interpret for the deaf persons seeking medical attention,” said the nominated ward rep from Dundori.
She said that despite the Disability Act being operational for the last 17 years, deaf people have continued to be neglected while seeking medical services in public hospitals.
“Failure to put in place such measures are against the provisions of the Constitution and a violation of the rights of persons with disabilities and that is why it is now critical to hire sign language interpreters to be deployed in all the 11 Nakuru sub- county hospitals,” said Ms Karugi in a motion she moved on Tuesday.
She said during the Covid-19 pandemic period, many deaf persons were not seeking medical services from local public hospitals due to lack of interpreters.
“They are suffering in silence while others are doing self-medication which is dangerous to their health,” she explained.
Ms Karugi revealed that health workers were undergoing tough times while dealing with deaf patients.
“Many of the medics are struggling to diagnose deaf patients and when some are admitted to hospitals, it becomes even a bigger problem to handle them particularly in case of emergency,” she added.
She said if the problem is not given top priority by the county, it could derail the Universal Health Care, one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
Ms Karugi suggested that the county should train nurses and clinical officers to become sign language interpreters.
“The nurses and clinical officers should be trained and this should form part of their refresher course. It will reduce the cost of hiring sign language interpreters due to budgetary constraints at the moment,” said Ms Karugi.
She said when the 55 ward administrators were hired, they had no managerial skills and were sponsored for a one-year management course in Baringo.
“If the county can afford to train ward administrators for one year, it should not be a big deal to sponsor health workers to train as sign language interpreters,” said Ms Karugi.
Ms Karugi called on the county to launch an awareness campaign and conduct a census of deaf persons and other persons living with disabilities in the region.
“This data will help the county plan in advance how to address the challenges affecting the deaf and other persons living with disabilities and include them in the budget making process,” said Ms Karugi.