DOH to train hospital personnel in using sign language | Inquirer News

DOH to train hospital personnel in using sign language

/ 03:44 AM November 14, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—What’s the sign language for “Help! I’m dying!”?

The Department of Health (DOH) will finally start training hospital personnel in using the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) to avoid situations where “injured or dying” deaf or mute Filipino patients could not be understood by medical personnel, especially during emergency situations, a DOH official said yesterday.


Accoriding to Doctor Eduardo Janairo, DOH-National Capital Region director, the DOH will start training this year nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff members in FSL so that they could assist deaf or mute Filipinos in need of immediate medical attention.

He added that hospitals in the country have not really required interpreters for patients with speech or hearing impairment.


“I’ve seen a lot of deaf or mute patients—who were either stabbed or were in an accident—being rushed to the hospital but the nurses or doctor cannot understand them,” Janairo said at the launching in Manila of the first Filipino Sign Language Module for Health Workers.

“With this module, hospital staff will now be able to understand the deaf. Our dream actually is to have someone in all sections of our hospitals know sign language,” he added.

Janairo recalled that when he was still practicing at the Laguna Provincial Hospital in the early 1980s, he had a patient who was both deaf and mute.

“He had been stabbed so we operated on him and just named him `Boy X.’ There are many situations like that wherein we really cannot understand them,” he said.

“Or most of the time, I would want to explain his sickness to him or have him take some medicines but I could not communicate with him,” he added.

The 2000 Census on Persons with Disabilities counted 120,000 deaf Filipinos in the country. The 2004 Philippine Registry on Persons with Disability showed 571 registered deaf or mute Filipinos in Metro Manila.

Janairo said that the FSL module would be introduced first in the National Capital Region in 2012 before extending the training to hospital personnel in the provinces.


“We need to introduce FSL in our health care system and strengthen its use for the benefit of people who have difficulty hearing or speaking. Health workers will also benefit from using this module as it will enrich their knowledge, skills, and awareness on the needs of people using FSL,” Janairo said.

“Health workers will be educated and trained on the proper gestures and body movements illustrated in the module for them to be able to communicate properly with people who use sign language,” he added.

Janairo said the FSL module include the sign language equivalents of numbers, the alphabet, greetings, time, medical terms, and questions frequently asked in emergency rooms.

Trained hospital personnel could ask patients about their illness or the symptoms they have been experiencing, Janairo said.

“Health workers after the training can tell the appropriate treatment in a simple gesture…This will prevent errors in communication that can pose health risk and liability to health providers,”he added.

The FSL module was developed with the cooperation and support of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, CAP College for the Deaf, DE La Salle University-College of Saint Benilde and the Department of Education-National Capital Region.

“With this manual as a guide, we can address the health inequities in our health care system and ensure PWDs the administration of accurate health care treatment,” Janairo said.

“It is with optimism that this FSL module will pave the way for the adoption of FSL as a second medium of communication for the use of our Filipino Deaf community,” he added. With a report from Yangchen C. Rinzin

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