Health Minister calls for equity for people with disabilities

Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu

Mr. Chukwu said Nigeria has been assiduously to ensure the basic rights of people living with disabilities.

The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Saturday in Geneva, Switzerland, called for equity in addressing issues affecting people with disabilities.

Mr. Chukwu who was among the discussants on Disabilities and Development, at the World Health Assembly, said Nigeria had worked assiduously to ensure that people living with disabilities have equal rights and basic facilities.

“We have an act now that particularly addresses disability arising from the working environment; people who have lost limps, visual capacity and hearing capacity,” he said.

“We now have a law that compensates adequately as a result of what must have happened in workplace, and also insists that government must facilitate how these people get properly rehabilitated.

“It is all about equity just like the rest of the society; we need to ensure that there is equity,” he added.

Mr. Chukwu observed that there were people who were visually disabled but could not afford to buy glasses or cater for themselves. He also noted that many developed countries had made transportation friendly for people with disabilities, and such care had been incorporated into the law.

The minister stated that public buildings such as schools and hospitals would also be made friendly for these people.

While the government has offered employment for people with disabilities, it is also partnering with the civil society to provide facilities, including rehabilitation homes, the minister said.

“We have facilities that have been established particularly by the civil society, and Faith- Based Organisations to cater for polio victims.

“We have also had what is known as Old People’s Homes or what is referred to in other countries as senior citizens homes, but in Nigeria, that is not something that is really desirable as people usually want to have their grandparents around,” the minister said.

Mr. Chukwu said that rehabilitation centres had been established for drug addicts and those with mental disorders, while emerging challenges such as cerebral palsy, autism, and Down syndrome were being taken care of.

The World Health Assembly recognises the protection and care for people with disabilities as a priority.

The Assembly notes with concern the greater risk facing the group, as people with disabilities make up an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population, 80 per cent of them living in developing countries.

The assembly also recognises the importance of international cooperation and national efforts in support of the group, hence the need to make all health care services accessible to such people.

(NAN)


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