On the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “World Hearing Day” 3rd March 2023, the Hon. Obediah H. Wilchcombe, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development said that his Ministry, along with the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) fully supports this cause. World Hearing Day’s objective is to create awareness about preventing hearing loss and to promote ear and hearing care for all ages, especially those who are already hearing impaired in The Bahamas. The 2023 “World Hearing Day” theme is “Ear and Hearing care for all – let’s make it a reality” and the goal is to have ear and hearing care, audiology screening and hearing loss prevention testing provided as primary care services throughout the world.
Minister Wilchcombe says the initiative by the WHO to make hearing care a part of primary care is indeed a most worthy one, as a preventative measure it would alleviate the need for resources to be allocated if healthcare providers are able to provide early diagnosis and intervention to improve the quality of life for those with hearing impairments. In my Ministry, said Minister Wilchcombe, “we process applications daily for assistance with getting treatment for hearing impairment or loss. My Ministry, assist qualified applicants with getting hearing aids and assistance with travel- related costs for screenings, diagnoses, surgeries, and treatments as necessary. We also assist affected families with Sign-language Classes and assistive technology based on need,” stated Minister Wilchcombe.
Minister Wilchcombe noted that, his Ministry provides a Sign-language Interpreter for court sessions, learning institutions and at NCPD meetings. “More importantly, Minister Wilchcombe said, we have ensured that National events have a Sign-language Interpreter present; for example, during the National Budget Debate in June 2022 and for the launch of the 50th Anniversary Logo!” He also noted, “by Law Sign-language Interpreters are required to be available so that persons with a hearing impairment may have equal access to national broadcasts, along with closed caption,” he continued.
The NCPD reported that a group of 150 hearing-impaired visitors in August 2022, were provided with Sign-language Interpreter services at their arrival, throughout their stay in Nassau and at departure. The group said they enjoyed the hospitality shown to them by the provision of such services, which ensured that all formalities and their needs were met. The NCPD says that the Disability Tourism market could be a game changer for The Bahamas. Last Fall, the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) launched the Sunflower Lanyard programme at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in recognition of persons traveling with hidden disabilities.
The Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development says it looks forward to the implementation of the WHO’s 2023 initiative to make ear and hearing care a reality for all!