Privacy and confidentiality in health care access for people who are deaf: The kenyan case

Image
Privacy, the “Freedom from unauthorized intrusion “and confidentiality, the state of keeping or being kept secret or private, which is “one of the most important pillars of medicine.” And which normally involves “Protecting the private details of a patient is not just a matter of moral respect, it is essential in retaining the important bond of trust between the doctor and the individual”. There two are two important components in building patient-doctor rapport and understanding and therefor necessary for healthcare access. The question then is what is at stake for people who are deaf and who more often than not have to give up the above two components in order to access health care. Is the health care they access quality healthcare? What are the chances that many people who are deaf get misdiagnosed and give wrong medication? What recourse do these people have in such cases? People who are deaf normally have lost their auditory faculty for one reason or another. They thus cannot access the world using sound as majority of the people in the world do. Given this scenario, the world is accessible to them through vision. This presents to people who are deaf a unique communication problem since unlike the majority of the people in the world, who communicate using an audio based symbol system (read speech), people who are deaf in Kenya communicate using a visually based symbol system i.e. Kenyan Sign Language popularly abbreviated as KSL. Their use of KSL makes them a language minority and renders them vulnerable to discrimination. This discrimination manifests itself in all facets of their life but more so in the health care system. In conclusion, there is no denying how important heath care is for anyone. However, it is the ability to access it that matters most. For people who are deaf, they mostly access health care through interpreters. It is debatable whether they do these using competent and trained interpreters. If they do, then their privacy and confidentiality is guaranteed since professionally trained interpreters are bond by their code of ethics. If they use quarks, this is not guaranteed. The other way people who are deaf can access health care is a situation where most medical practitioners are conversant with KSL and thus a patient who is deaf has direct access to the medical practitioner without the need for a third party. This way then patients who are deaf will have their privacy and confidentiality respected while at the same time bearing in mind that “Protecting the private details of a patient is not just a matter of moral respect, it is essential in retaining the important bond of trust between the doctor and the individual” [2]. Finally access to health care is a human right of major concern and it must be treated as such. Media Contact: Sophia Managing Editor Journal of Health Policy & Management. Email: editor.jhpm@clinicalmedicaljournal.com What’s App: +1-947-333-4405