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HIV/AIDS Sign Language launched

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 05 April 2017   |   By Ontametse Sugar
Sherly Keoagile Sherly Keoagile

The National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) has launched the HIV/AIDS Sign Language materials in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and Botswana Association of the Deaf (BOAD). Japhet Moyo of BOAD said in many instances people assume that he can talk even though he is deaf. He applauded those who have partnered with them in making sure that the project become successful because that will go a long way in making sure that deaf people are also catered for. The event was graced by representatives of the Deaf Association of South Africa. He said that it is important that people do away with the mind set that deaf people cannot do certain things because they absolutely can. “We can teach; make babies. All we need is to be given support to do all these things; you can see that I am married because that shows how capable we are. It is important that communities connect with the deaf,” he said. Moyo said people should stop being afraid of them and socialise with them and learn just basic signs so that they can communicate with them better. BOAD’s Shirley Keoagile said the launch of health materials in sign language was long overdue because their confidentiality was comprised, especially when dealing with confidential matters like HIV/AIDS because a translator had to always be called in. “Our people didn’t have confidentiality and privacy because they always needed an interpreter, but now the counsellors will read the signs for them so that they communicate better. We picked this model from South Africa and I can say that it was not an easy thing to implement,” she said. Keoagile said as deaf people they have always had to write on a piece of paper when they get to the clinic for them to communicate their issues. “There are so many deaf people who are HIV Positive and something needed to be done for them to get the best service, and the signs will be shared with all health centres in the country both public and private,” she said.MOH’s Robertson Dimbungu said they couldn’t be happier as NACA for the project to have materialised. He said they have been able to achieve some of their objectives because even Non-Governmental Organisations that deal with HIV/AIDS came on board to make sure that the project became successful. “This was a national response because certain key populations are left out and these were the major barriers in their part because there was so much gap and something needed to be done and still needs to be done,” he said. He said the deaf have been deprived of lack of equal participation and did not receive ample counselling that is required before an HIV/AIDS test and that hindered them from knowing their results