The Deaf Bulletin 2016 issue 3

The Deaf Bulletin 2016 Issue 3

The Deaf Bulletin 2016 Issue 3

Maternal mortality and Deaf women.

Maternal mortality is the death of a woman from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. According to WHO, Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality rate currently stands at 525 deaths per 100 000 live births compared to the MDG’s set target of 71 deaths per 100 000 live births. A number of factors are contributing to maternal mortality such as:

  • Religious beliefs, for example the Apostolic sect which refuses to go to hospitals or have blood transfusion.
  • Refusal to seek health care due to communication barrier especially with Deaf community.
  • Use of traditional medicines to quicken labour contractions.

Maternal mortality is preventable if women receive the right care during pregnancy and child birth. For Deaf women access to appropriate care during pregnancy has due to lack of Sign Language provision. Nurses and doctors cannot communicate in Sign Language and this poses a communication barrier between the health care provider and the Deaf patient. Many Deaf people have lost trust in the health care service and tend to avoid visiting clinics and hospitals.

Research by Deaf Zimbabwe Trust has shown that many Deaf women shun going to clinics or hospitals. Deaf women have reported mistreatment by nurses during giving birth with some midwives going as far as beating the Deaf women to force them to push the baby. Negative attitude towards disability and the belief that people with disabilities are asexual have contributed to this ill treatment of Deaf women in the maternity ward.

As the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) works to reduce maternal mortality rates, there is need to consider the role that Sign Language plays in reducing maternal mortality amongst Deaf women. Sign Language provision will ensure that Deaf women have access to appropriate care during pregnancy.

Other topics covered in this bulletin are:

  • How sensitive are we to deafness?
  • World Health Day.