Monday January 21, 2019

Social acceptance more important to empower the disabled: UNICEF official

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photo credit: pages.rediff.com

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)

Next Story

Road Traffic Accidents Cause 1.35 Mn Deaths Each Year: WHO

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

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Traffic Crashes, Road Traffic
Two bikes were involved in an accident with a bus that crashed and turned on its roof near the town of Franschhoek, South Africa, March 7, 2015. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for urgent action to put a brake on road traffic crashes that kill 1.35 million people every year, mostly in poor developing countries.

In Geneva, the U.N. agency launched its global status report on road safety 2018.

The report found road traffic injuries to be the leading killer of children and young people aged five to 29 years, with a death occurring every 24 seconds. The report said more than half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders and passengers.

Etienne Krug, head of the U.N. Agency’s Department on Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, called these deaths a huge inequality issue.

Traffic Signals, Road Traffic
Traffic and congestion on roads is frequent in all cities of India. Wikimedia

“Low-income countries have one percent of the vehicles in the world and 13 percent of all the deaths; while high-income countries have 40 percent of all the vehicles,” Krug said. “So, that is 40 times more, but only seven percent of the deaths.That is half of the deaths with 40 times more vehicles.”

The report said death rates are highest in Africa and lowest in Europe. Some of the key risk factors include speeding, drinking and driving, and failure to use seat belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints.

Krug said putting the right measures in place will save lives. These include the right legislation and enforcement, creating special lanes for cyclists and improving the quality of vehicles.

Road accidents in India
Road accidents in India. Pixabay

“It is not acceptable that vehicles are being sold in developing countries that look the same as the vehicles that we see here in Switzerland or the U.S. or anywhere else, but that are not,” Krug told VOA. “Because to make them cheaper, they have been stripped of all of their safety features, such as air bags or electronic stability control, etc.”

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

Also Read: HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly in Pakistan: WHO

However, it said no such progress has been made in low-income countries where safety measures are lacking. (VOA)