Monday, 22 January 2007

an article on Deaf VCT in Disability Kenya

Mzee Bubu got this from his friend today - make interesting read. See below - what you think?


:: Confusion and competition in Deaf VCT services is unnecesary
5th December 2006

The Deaf VCT is one of the most unique counselling and testing programme actually in the World. In 2003 the first batch of Deaf Kenyans were trained by the Liverpool VCT with funding from the CDC.This lead to the establishment of the Nairobi Deaf VCT. Three years down the road the programme has expanded to three VCT sites providing counselling in sign language and testing within standard quality as per the national guidelines for Voluntary Counselling and Testing.

The Deaf in Kenya is one of the most well served in relation to HIV services in the last few years. compared to other disabilities, the Deaf in Kenya have the best disability friendly efforts to mitigate HIV/AIDS. One of the major hurdles this projects have faced is the quality of training if we are using Kenya Sign Language.

Establishing a VCT among the Deaf face the twin issues of confidentiality and quality service within the use of kenya sign language. the level of service delivery should be directly the same as those of the general population. to achive this the issue of ensureing that any adjustments do not in themselves reduce or complicate the issue of service qualitity is quite relevant.

Adjustments need not compromise quality.

To achieve the above two objectives in establishing a deaf VCT various adjustments are necessary to ensure equity of standards. The prime issue is the adaptation of the Training guidelines to suit deaf training. The methods of training, the quality of trainers, the quality of sign language interpreters, the issue of following the basic benchmarks like educational standards of the candidates, the curriculum adoptation issues are all important in ensuring this quality is not compromised. This is because the fact that we are deaf does not mean that we should be sacrificed on the alter of seeking funding.

To achieve this a for the initial Deaf VCT participation in not only selection of candidates but also training and evalutaion after training. This means that haveing gone through this process in 2002-4 certain standards were set that define quality of service to the deaf community. Such standards are critical for any new entrants into the training arean especially for this community. Such standrds it is expected are supposed to be enforced by a regulator which in this case is the Ministry of Health under the National AIDs and STD Control Programme (NASCOP).

However issues arising in the last few month show a different approach to the issue that is not only bringing confusion but also hard-ball competition quite unneccessary in this case. I say quite neccessary because the area of anti-retrovial Treatment among the Deaf has major challenges that demand attention.

The effective enforcement of the issues are integral to maintaining quality service provision. It is important to be aware that any place a deaf client will enter s/he will be treated with the same standard are kept.

Increased competition.

While we appreciate the necesity of competition we abhor competiion outside a level playing field. It is important that new entrants into training deaf counsellors and peer educators use standard curriculum within tested training methods suitable for the deaf. This will ensure quality delivery of services at the sites. However such cannot be enforced if the regulator does not provide the required leadership. Strategic partnerships are necessary to ensure standards are kept. Donors when providing resources to such projects need to consider the existing best practices.

Handicap International (HI) working with Dandora deaf Self help group has plans to initiate a deaf VCT. Initially there were indications of a strategic partnership with Liverpool VCT in training to enable the new deaf staff be absorbed into the new site under the CBO.

LVCT earlier had already held another training in July 2006 and there were other deaf counsellors and peer educators who HI could have absorbed. I may not know what happened but HI ended up seeking alternative training organisation Kenya Association of Professional Counssellors (KAPC) to do the training. They too with funding from RATN had held another training for deaf in general counselling. KAPC have no history or expereince in VCT counselling neither have they trained any certified Deaf counsellors.

Now issues are arising about the quality of the VCT counsellors being trained in the on-going training which started december 4th 2006. will they be counsellors in VCT or what? and what training quality, what service quality, several leaders have asked the questions about the reading and writing capabilites of the selected candidates. Do we have effective sign language adaptations to ensure their clear understandiung of the issues involved?

Confusion in deaf VCT training & regulatory framework

The establishment of a deaf VCT in Nairobi is also rasing eyebrows. Basic strategic thinking will tell you that nairobi has had the highest concentration of Deaf HIV/AIDS programmes. Actually ALL if not 90% of the members of Dandora Self Help group were tested while the Deaf VCT was in Buruburu. It beats logic to say there is need for a deaf VCT in Dandora. We should be talking about peer educators and Care givers. we should be providing jobs for the Deaf who are living with HIV/AIDS not use them in media then emply people who dont know where the shoes pinches.

There is alot of confusion in this because NASCOP the regulator is also unfortunately compromised. Earlier in 2004 one of the persons trained was sacked from the VCT due to issues related to making advances to client. It is unfortunate that this same person was employed by NASCOP VCT in Kenyatta Hospital. This issue has caused alot of rumbling within the community. Enforcing regulations is difficult if other people will ignore the rules.

This has made it hard for the community and its strategic partners to sit and develop an enforceable standards across the board. The deaf therefore may get the wrong message.

Such matters may be brushed under the thick carpet of fundraising and donor coddling, but the lives we are talking about are of no less value. The regulators must arise to the occassion in regard to issues related to quality standardisation of disability-friendly health and education services. The NCPWDs need to speed up its regulatory arm to deal with such issues.

written by Disabilitykenya