Cost-effective solutions to help deaf people navigate healthcare in developing countries is exactly what Banele Mhlongo and Vuma Mthembu, fourth-year medical students at the University of Cape Town (UCT), are trying to achieve with the app they are developing.
For people who are deaf, dealing with public services such as police stations or healthcare facilities without a sign-language interpreter can be stressful or at worst potentially dangerous. They are less likely to make use of healthcare facilities due to communication barriers, which can lead to an incorrect diagnosis or less than satisfactory treatment options.
The two students believe that communicating with the deaf is a vital aspect to create stronger health systems. Already, there is a strong focus on communication with patients at the UCT Health Science Faculty, where students learn isiXhosa and Afrikaans to ensure that patients can understand and respond to relevant questions when obtaining a medica