Friday, 22 July 2011

World Federation of the Deaf, Health Resources Initiative - J. Fellinger, A. Kuenburg & M. Jokinen

Dr. Fellinger
 Markku Jokinen starts the presentation by saying: "Health is important to human beings. Health is a human right."

Until today not much information or facts are available on the health of deaf people. This project is a small step towards the improvement of the health situation for deaf people in the world. Research is essential to assist us in this. Therefore this small study is a first step forward. In a survey deaf organisations from various regions were asked on the health situation in their region. The importance of health is also stated in article 25 of the UNCRPD. It says that states who ratified the UNCRPD must provide disabled person with high quality health services without barriers and no discrimination in this respect. It also states that the service must be equal in regard to gender. Markku Jokinen ends by saying that Deaf people must have good access to quality health services.

Dr. Fellinger then continues the presentation: "Health is a gift. If you are not healthy this can be a major problem, especially Deaf people". There is very little research done in the health situation of deaf people. The research does show that there is a high rate of mental health problems within the Deaf population. In the WFD there is also commission on mental health.

The framework of the WFD Health Resources initiative is to improve the health services situation and the accessibility to these services for Deaf people. Dr. Fellinger then mentions some of the specific aims of the framework. There are three partners: the needs assessment A (global survey), the needs assessment B (different D. populations in different nations, and thirdly best practices examples. Today Dr. Fellinger presents the results of the survey.

The survey was developed with international experts and WFD experts. The response rate was 44%, representing 40 countries worldwide. Of the respondents 2/3 report that Deaf people have more problems than hearing people in their country. Half of the respondents responded mental health or emotional problems first. The causes indicated were for example communication issues.

Of the respondents 4/5 reported that the accessibility to the health services for Deaf people are very difficult. In the low HDI countries 100 percent of the Deaf persons do not have a provision of an interpreter in health care services. In the high HDI countries this is 20 percent. 

There are limitations to the survey. It highly depends on the responses of the deaf presidents of the organisations. It is important that we now grab the opportunity an use thearticle 25 of the UNCRPD and that we lobby for our own interests and good health care for Deaf people. 

Dr. Fellinger ends his presentation by stating that the key to information is trust, and to trust each other and to work together this will bring us good quality healthcare.

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