Deaf Women Aloud Initiative (DWAI) on Saturday in Abuja organized Breast and Cervical Cancer Awareness for deaf women in the FCT.
The Executive Director, DWAI, Mrs. Hellen Beiyoku-Alase in a statement sent to TQM said that the Deaf community is reported to experience communication barriers that hamper access to health information and care, putting its members at increased risk for not knowing about potentially life-saving prevention and early detection strategies.
Also, the absence and cost of paying sign language interpreters’ services by the Deaf women and girls to access this information within the health facilities in Abuja has often limited their chance to quality sexual and reproductive health services thereby, increasing the rate of maternal mortality and morbidity among deaf women and their families and children too.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that about 95% of deaf women have reduced access to health information and experience barriers in accessing screening, prevention and care services resulting in greater unmet health needs especially in relation to sexual and reproductive health services and information.
As part of the project funded by Disability Rights Fund (DRF) to improving access to healthcare for Deaf women and girls in 4 Area councils in Abuja and the result of advocacy visit, The Deaf women Aloud Initiative (DWAI) in collaboration with Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) utilize the occasion of International Breast Cancer Day, to organized a one-day Breast and Cervical cancer awareness, screening and treatment for over one hundred Deaf women in FCT at National Trauma Centre in National Hospital, Garki, Abuja.
At the start of the program, It was also observed that almost all these deaf women had no knowledge of cervical cancer and Lack of knowledge has been associated with decreased screening and early detection rates, suggesting that they may be at a higher risk of discovering late stage cervical cancer and hence, at higher risk for needing more aggressive treatments and having higher rates of mortality.
The highlights of the program was seminars on breast and cervical cancer facilitated by Doctors from National Hospital led by Dr. Fatima and Dr. Chizaram of MWAN. The duos assisted by sign-language interpreters lectured deaf women and young girls on how to identify signs, symptoms, prevention and treatment of breast and cervical cancer.
They were also practically taught and exposed on how to do self-examination on their breast once in a month after their menstruation, as well as checking lumps and other signs of cancer.
At the end of the seminar, there were questions from the Deaf women which answers were provided by the Doctors.
In summary, About 90 percent of Deaf women in attendance were all tested free of charges for cervical cancer and about 15% of them were discovered to be positive with signs of cervical cancer and they were treated immediately. The Deaf women treated for the signs of cervical cancer were also asked to return in six (6) weeks for as part of measures and follow up screening.
Mrs. Hellen was grateful to the Chairperson and entire members of Medical Women Association of Nigeria (Abuja Chapter) for laudable breakthrough which is first of its kind which majority of deaf women and the society considered to be too expensive to door afforded.
She appreciated that sign language interpreters Bukunmi Adejumo, Patience Etim C and Anuoluwapo Aderigbe for their sacrifices.
She concluded by expressing gratitude to Disability Rights Funds (DRF) for their support in ensuring that deaf women have access to healthcare services.