Access to Health Care Services by Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (Dhh) in Botswana: Francistown and Tati
Chinkonono, Gorgeous Sarah
Cumber, Samuel Nambile
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Background: Individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) face a lot of challenges when accessing health care services. The main barrier that they face is communication. Despite this, not much research had been carried out in Africa to understand how individuals who are DHH access healthcare services. This study sought to explore experiences of individuals who are DHH in Botswana when accessing healthcare services to propose recommendations towards improving their situation. Methods: This is a qualitative research study using phenomenological approach. Participants were observed at one point in time. Face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with 22 DHH individuals living in Francistown and Tati, using a semi-structured interview guide and an interpreter. Participants age range was between 18years to 40years. Purposive sampling and snowballing sampling techniques were used to select the participants. Results: The main challenge that individuals who are DHH in Botswana face is communication barrier which has culminated in their reception of poor healthcare services as the healthcare professionals fail to effectively attain to their health needs. This is evident through wrong prescriptions and treatment; poor counselling services, lack of confidentiality; poor maternal health services especially during child delivery; and limited health information. However, individuals who are DHH in Botswana continues to utilize healthcare services. Conclusion: Poor communication between healthcare professionals and individuals who are DHH act as an impediment to acquiring proper healthcare services by individuals who are DHH. This can lead to poor health outcomes for the DHH population as they are not well informed about health issues that they are at risk of and at times do not know where to seek specific healthcare services pertaining to the health problems they are experiencing. Therefore, there is a need to provide sign language interpreters in the health care centres to reduce the impact of this problem.
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