NGO wants governments to consider people with disabilities in policy making processes

An NGO, Speaking Fingers Network, has called on the three tiers of government to be conscious and sensitive to the plights of People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the society.

Mrs Treasure Uchegbu, the Convener and Lead Facilitator of the organisation, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.

According to her, if People with Disabilities (PWDs) are considered and involved in policy-making processes, they will have a sense of belonging and be useful to society.

Uchegbu also urged the governments to ensure that policy development and implementation were delivered on key targets of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the Goal Three.

NAN reports that Goal Three of SDGs is “Ensure Good Health and Wellbeing for all at all ages.”

Uchegbu said: “I expect that in 2019, the nation’s health sector will be a sector that is fully sensitive to the plights of people with disabilities.

“The sector is expected to be aware, conscious and deliberate in its service delivery, policy development and implementation to deliver on key targets of Sustainable Development Goal Three (SDG3).

“It is also important to involve the PWDs in policy-making processes, governance and budgetary allocations as disability matters need not be an afterthought issues.”

The convener urged governments to ensure that there was increased access, engagements and participation of young PWDs in s3xuality education and or orientation, particularly leveraging on the existing adolescents and youth-friendly services.

She suggested that the services should be replicated in all the states where it was non-existent.

Uchegbu said that often times, they were prevented and almost prohibited from information relating to their Sexual Reproductive Health needs and rights owing to their disability status.

She urged the governments to bridge every capacity gaps to deliver on healthcare that would empower the PWDs and ensure inclusiveness, equality and equity, where each cluster of disability would have its uniquely specific need.

Uchegbu explained that there were six recognised Disability Clusters, according to the Joint Nationals Association of the Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD).

She named them as: the Blind, the Physically Challenged, the deaf, intellectual disability, those with spinal cord injuries and leprosy.

The convener said, “putting these clusters into one homogeneous group will mean making adjustments to infrastructure, communication, attitudinal barriers, and it will not eradicate negative stereotypes which fuels stigma and discrimination.”

Uchegbu called on governments to invest in non-communicable health programmes and interventions such as mental and emotional health among persons with disabilities.

She said that such interventions should be made burning issues, while also extending psychiatrist and psychological services to them.

Uchegbu commended the Lagos State College of Health Technology (LASCOHET) for making Sign Language and disability sensitivity orientation part of its curriculum, urging other institutions in the country to do same.

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