Patients with hearing disabilities often rely on their family members to communicate at hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City due to a lack of sign language interpreters, an expert said at a seminar in the southern metropolis on Sunday.
It has been difficult and inconvenient for hearing-impaired patients to seek care or treatment at hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, according to Phan Quoc Bao, a public health pundit from the Center for Research and Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CED).
Ho Chi Minh City has 102 city-level hospitals, along with several preventive medicine centers and hundreds of ward- and commune-level health stations, Bao said.
But the last update on the number of people with hearing disabilities in the city of 3,550 dates back to 2006.
“For 14 years, we have not had a new updated number. This proves a lack of research and statistics,” Bao explained.
While the Ministry of Health has dictated that hospitals must provide adequate interpretation services to help deaf patients communicate medically relevant information effectively with health workers, Bao said, adding there are currently only 20 sign language interpreters at hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City.
The implementation of that regulation has not been consistent, Bao commented.
Some hospitals practice the regulation only to cope with government agencies, while some others completely do not help the hearing-impaired in conveying and receiving medical information from doctors.
Meanwhile, a majority of hearing-impaired people have also not understood their rights and interests in medical examination and treatment, as well as related policies and laws.
In order to help tackle this issue, the CED signed an agreement to support and train nine city-level hospitals to provide sign language interpretation services for hearing-impaired patients in 2016.
The center already launched a project to stimulate the implementation of the health ministry’s regulation on medical examination and treatment for hearing-impaired people.
The CED also has plans to conduct research on 200 hearing-impaired people and their parents at 20 hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City to support relevant agencies and associations of the deaf.
Founded in 2011, the center is the first and only organization in Vietnam established by the deaf, for the deaf, including those completely or partly unable to hear, the hard of hearing, or with late hearing loss.