Deafblindness in Malawi worry VIHEMA, intervenes in Machinga

Visual Hearing Impairment Membership Association (VIHEMA DeafBlind Malawi), with funding from Disability Rights Fund, has embarked on a one year pilot project to mainstream deafblindness in Early Childhood Development (ECD) and inclusive education in primary schools in Traditional Authority (T/A) Chamba in Machinga District.

VIHEMA officials and stakeholders
VIHEMA DeafBlind Malawi advocates for the rights and needs of deafblind people in the country.
According to Programs Coordinator for the association Martha Momba, deafblindness is a disability of a combination of visual impairment and hearing impairment at once in one individual.
She told stakeholders on Friday in the Capital Lilongwe that the condition is on the rise in Malawi hence the pilot project in Machinga in order to see how such an intervention can also work out in other districts across the country.
“Deafblind children have difficulties to learn in Machinga. The project wants deafblind children in the age range of 8 months to 6 years to enroll in ECD in the district. We believe this is a way of helping government in ensuring that such children later become productive citizens,” Momba said.
Stakeholders to the meeting in Lilongwe included; Ministry of Education, Health and Disability officials and Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) leaders.
Chief Education Officer in the Department of Inclusive and Special Needs Education, Peter Sendema, said VIHEMA’s intervention has come at the right time when government is trying to accommodate all forms of disabilities in its programmes.
“Honestly, we were unable to support deafblind people largely because we did not know how to go about identifying them and lacked resources to do that.
“The problem may be really big as over the years we have been focusing either on deaf or blindness cases only. We will conduct a survey to ascertain how many people in the country have deafblindness disability,” said Sendema.

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