The Times of Tanzania
Eastern Africa News Network

Netto Mhadisa: First Hearing Impaired Health Laboratory Practitioner in Tanzania

Netto Mhadisa is deaf, which means he can’t hear, but this has not prevented the young man from achieving greater heights.

Even though people with impaired hearing face many obstacles and challenges in both education and work life, Young Mhandisa has fought against all odds, to reach where he is now.

Aged only 38, Netto Mhadisa has succeeded in obtaining a permanent license as certified medical laboratory professional (CMLP).

He currently works as an intern at the medical laboratory of the Kaloleni Urban Health Center which is the main hospital that serves the Arusha City community.

Starting as an intern, Mhadisa hopes to receive a permanent position afterwards.

He has recently received the official confirmation that his name will be published on the list of Registered Health Practitioners of the Laboratory Practitioner Council.

“As far as I know, I am the only deaf Tanzanian working in a laboratory with a CMLP license” says Netto Mhadisa.

Kaloleni Hospital, Arusha

“I have come across many hearing impaired persons through my work in deaf associations  but nobody knows someone who has been able to achieve this – at least not in Tanzania.” Netto explains.

He however admits that in other countries such as Kenya, there are a number of hearing impaired people who have managed to achieve greater positions such as being advocates of law and other high level jobs.

In Tanzania, there are also deaf teachers, head teachers, university lecturers, Information Technology (IT), specialists and Non-Government Organization administrators.

Still, a great number of hearing impaired persons in Tanzania still work as artisan crafts persons, street vendors or low paying manual labourers.

Stigma and Prejudice have been the major problems that keep deaf people from employment as well as discouraging most of them from advanced education.

As the result many people with disabilities remain uneducated, something which also makes them unemployable.

With low education, it gets difficult for the disabled people to secure jobs.

“People with impaired hearing rely on sign language in schools and colleges,” he says.

Apparently the country’s education system uses the Tanzanian Sign Language (Lugha ya Alama ya Tanzania, LAT).

However, very few teachers in the country are competent in teaching using the special LAT sign language and the majority of them are usually found mostly in primary schools.

“Most teachers in Secondary Schools and other higher levels of education lack sign language skills,” he points out.

The higher institutions of learning also have very few, if any, sign language interpreters.

Netto was thus forced to struggle through Secondary School and Tertiary Education Levels without sign language teachers or interpreters.

He took the hard route.

“I would be compelled to teach my classmates some Tanzanian Sign Language (LAT) skills so that they may also in turn try and translate the class subjects for me.”

But being students who had their own studies to attend to and the fact that they were not exactly interpreters, Netto would more often than not be left to his own resources.

Some people would even try to dissuade him from higher learning or taking challenging subjects, but he kept the faith.

Apparently his hopes and ambitions were greater than challenges from his disability.

 “During my final year at secondary school, there were various students with impaired hearing who were forced to drop from school at Form Two stage because there were no people to help them with interpretation,” he recalls.

Netto tried to report the case to authorities but nobody cared.

Though discouraging, it also motivated him further to study hard so that he could become the first hearing impaired medical laboratory Technologist.

“I previously helped other disadvantaged people in education and now want to assist other disadvantaged persons and advocate their right to medical treatment.”

As it happens, prior to studying at Mvumi Institute of Health Sciences, Netto also worked temporarily as a teacher at three different deaf schools in Arusha Region assisting disadvantaged learners like him.

He has a certificate of Early Childhood Development and Primary Education (ECDPE).

“Studies in Tanzania and other countries have shown that deaf teachers are extremely useful in impacting knowledge to students with impaired hearing,” says Netto.

Teachers with impaired hearing handle sign language well thus good at conducting lessons to deaf students and as more people with disabilities climb to higher ranks in society, they serve as good role models for others.

Netto is pushing himself harder to do even better in his duties as an intern at the Hospital’s Laboratory so that he can be a shining example of what disadvantaged persons are capable of achieving given the opportunity.

His daily duties include all tasks related to medical laboratory examination of all tissue samples, such as blood, urine and stool specimens.

He professionally handles haematology, microbiology, parasitology tasks as well as working the clinical chemistry section.

“I take great pride in contributing to better healthcare for all people in the surrounding community,” he maintains.

He extends gratitude to the government which happens to be his first employer for providing him with the opportunity to work and show his skills.

The Tanzanian Government directs that all employers in the country must include people with disabilities in their work force and that each firm or institution should ensure that at least 2 percent of the employees are people with disabilities.

Against all odds

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, around 1.9 percent of the country’s population suffer impaired hearing disability.

The Arusha Region itself has nearly 38,000 people with hearing disability. This includes people with mild hearing loss and severe hearing loss as well as persons who have totally lost hearing ability.

You might also like

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.