Wednesday September 19, 2018

Social acceptance more important to empower the disabled: UNICEF official

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New Delhi: Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF’s representative to India, said to motivate persons with disabilities (PwD) to do better and come up in all walks of life, the government needed to focus more and more on community-based rehabilitation programmes that can teach people to accept physically-challenged persons.

index“There’s always much more to be done while addressing the cause of disability. While India is doing its part to solve the issue with various policies and programmes, I think the focus should be more on community-based rehabilitation programmes,” Arsenault told IANS.

“These programmes would help teach normal society the manner to deal with persons with disabilities,” he said, adding: “Acceptance of these people by society is the most important step in empowering them.”

Asked whether India has suitable infrastructure for PwDs, Arsenault said: “It’s not about the infrastructure; the mindset first needs to be changed and then the infrastructural plans could come in.

“Creating an appropriate infrastructure is not a big deal– not that expensive either– but the way we think about the persons with disabilities is something that matters a lot,” Arsenault added.

According to the 2011 census, over 2.2 per cent of the Indian population is disabled, while the erstwhile Planning Commission placed the figure at five per cent. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates it to be eight per cent.

In a bid to help these people, the Narendra Modi government has launched its Accessible India Campaign that aims at building accessible government buildings for PwDs and providing them accessible transportation facilities.

Happy with the government’s initiative, Sminu Jindal, the managing director of Jindal Saw Ltd and the founder of NGO Svayam, said: “Inaccessibility of public infrastructure remains a major challenge. When people with disabilities cannot come out of their homes, use pedestrian pathways or means of public transport, all the benefits and facilities conferred by the state like right to education and three per cent reservation in public employment, among others, fail to bring desired empowerment.”

“Similarly, despite inclusive education being a legal mandate, access to education continues to be a challenge due to lack of accessible infrastructure and special educators and lack of will to include children with disabilities,” added Jindal, who was crippled after an accident in 2011.

She said the government needs to focus more on implementation of its programmes related to persons with disabilities and added: “Though the government has started various social schemes for the marginalized, there is need for a concentrated and focussed approach with stipulated timelines to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities and the elderly in the mainstream.”

Nikhil Gupta, the co-director of the ESCIP Trust India that works for the empowerment of people with injured spinal cords, felt that persons with disabilities are “bound to live a miserable life” in the absence of proper treatment and rehabilitation.

“If a wheelchair user wants to go out with friends or family there are very few accessible restaurants, movie halls and public places. The number of these places are even less than our fingers and that too in Metro cities,” he said.

“Thus, the government needs to come up with much more programmes and most importantly implement them so that the change could take place”, said Gupta.

(Prashant Kumar, IANS)

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Authorities In Zimbabwe Face Drug-Resistant Cholera Bacteria

Critics blame the government for failing to address issues of poor water supply, blocked sewers, and irregular trash collection, factors which are said to be making a cholera outbreak worse.

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Cholera, Zimbabwe
Cholera patients are seen isolated at Budiriro clinic. VOA

The United Nations says it is hopeful Zimbabwe will soon contain an outbreak of cholera that has killed more than two dozen people. Efforts are complicated as authorities are fighting a drug-resistant bacterium said to be fueling the spread of the waterborne disease.

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health Friday said the number of cholera-related deaths has climbed to 28, and more than 3,700 cases have been reported across Zimbabwe, with the country’s capital, Harare, remaining the epicenter of the problem.

Cholera, Zimbabwe
Amina Mohammed, the deputy chief of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), says her organisation is importing more drugs to combat cholera and is optimistic the situation is improving and stabilizing, in Harare, Zimbabwe. VOA

Amina Mohammed, the deputy chief of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said patients are not responding to the drugs typically used to combat the disease. She said doctors are now using second and third-line drugs, which she said UNICEF is importing.

She said the outbreak can be contained if people follow basic hygiene practices at home.

Cholera, Zimbabwe
A medical staff member (left) administers oral rehydrating solution to a cholera patient to replace fluids he lost through diarrhea, in Harare, Zimbabwe. VOA

 

“This is an outbreak, at the beginning it is not easy to bring everyone together. But I think we have all rallied behind and are improving. I think we are stabilizing. I am happy about that. It could be better but we are happy that there is coordination by the ministry of health, together with the WHO, ourselves, MSF is doing a great job managing these cases,” said Mohammed referring to the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders, the latter known for its French acronym MSF.

UNICEF, the WHO and MSF are some of the organizations that took action after Zimbabwe’s health minister declared a state of emergency Monday.

 

Cholera, Zimbabwe
A woman is seen washing clothes in the Mukuvisi River in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 11, 2018, as water shortages persist, what experts say is fueling the spread of cholera. VOA

 

On Thursday, the University of Zimbabwe postponed a graduation ceremony that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was supposed to attend, after police banned all public gatherings in light of the cholera outbreak.

But Jacob Mafume, spokesman of the main opposition party MDC, said the ban was only meant to stop its planned “inauguration” of party leader Nelson Chamisa Saturday as the “people’s president.”

 

Cholera, Zimbabwe
Raw sewage is seen flowing in the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe Sept. 11, 2018, with experts saying such conditions create an ideal environment for waterborne diseases such as salmonella, typhoid and cholera to thrive. VOA

 

“The government is using its failure to provide water, it is taking advantage of its failures to restrict the freedoms of the people. They are running scared of our president Nelson Chamisa since his victory, to quickly take over from ZANU-PF inefficiency so that people can be healed from medieval diseases,” said Mafume.

Mnangagwa’s government has refused to comment on what it called “cheap politics” by the opposition, which has refused to accept results from the July 30 elections.

Cholera, Zimbabwe
Authorities go for weeks without collecting trash resulting in Harare residents dumping it anywhere they can, creating conditions for cholera organisms to thrive, say health experts, in Harare, Zimbabwe. VOA

It said it is concentrating on containing the cholera outbreak which has since spread from Harare to other parts of the country.

Also Read: Video- Zimbabwe’s Newly Appointed President Calls For Unity

Critics blame the government for failing to address issues of poor water supply, blocked sewers, and irregular trash collection, factors which are said to be making a cholera outbreak worse. (VOA)