DOH starts training of health workers on basic Filipino sign language

PHILIPPINES: Department of Health (DOH) National Capital Region today started training healthcare providers on Basic Filipino Sign Language (BFSL) for them to use in communicating and understanding patients in healthcare facilities with hearing disabilities.

Filipino Sign Language

Filipino Sign Language (Photo credit: DEAF FSL’s Flicker photostream)

“This is the first phase of our development program for our health workers who are involved with patients with disabilities. We want to make health services to better serve those who have disabilities and make it easier for them to go to a health center and tell a health worker what they need without worries,” Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo said.

“This training will also increase their knowledge and understanding about people with disabilities and how they can improve their attitudes towards patients who are disabled. These improvements are not so difficult or expensive to do. All we need is determination and dedication and the proper skill to make it possible,” Janairo said.

The first batch of trainees will be provided with a module that will familiarize them with the basic signs for communication with deaf patients. These includes the alphabet, numbers, greetings, time, days, months, and commonly asked questions inside the emergency room. After memorizing simple gestures and facial expressions, trainees can interact with hearing impaired patients.

Among the 25 participants included in the training are from the Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Las Piñas General and Satellite Trauma Center, San Lorenzo Ruiz Women’s Hospital, Valenzuela Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Ospital ng Makati, Mandaluyong City Medical Center, UP – Philippine General Hospital and CALABARZON – A.

The DOH National Capital Region launched the first Basic Filipino Sign Language (BFSL) Module for Health Workers last November 13, 2012, with the objective of educating health workers with basic sign language for them to better communicate and understand patients who are deaf in their care.

It was developed through the support of the 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.

According to Director Janairo, health workers provide treatment and care to many people daily and some patients are not fortunate to communicate the normal way. “We want to help the patient but we do not speak his language and he on his part cannot convey to us what he needs. Some of these patients are not accompanied by relatives. That is why it is imperative for us educate ourselves with their language to be able to communicate with them and give them the proper health care treatment,” he added

“We will be extending this training to all health providers in the region until most health workers are taught how to communicate using signs. This skill is essential as we do not want to commit errors and prescribe the wrong treatment just because we lack the knowledge to communicate with our patients,” Janairo concluded.