08 February 2017

Ghana asks UN to help give dignity to persons with disabilities


Ghana has asked the United Nations to support her to resource citizens with disabilities with essential assistive devices to facilitate their full participation in national development efforts.

Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s representative to the 55th Session of the Commission for Social Development, said providing wheelchairs, braille, white canes hearing aids and the like, would aid their general well-being, education, training and mobility to make them live independent and dignified lives.

Ghana’s representative was contributing to a high-level panel discussion on: “Mainstreaming Disability in Poverty Reduction Efforts”.

Madam Otiko Djaba said these devices and equipment must be free or affordable; and must also be available to everyone who needed them, in every corner of the country, so that nobody would be left behind in the national and global agenda for sustainable development.

The social protection advocate explained that it was inhumane for persons with physical disabilities in countries, like Ghana, to walk on their hands and struggle along, whereas they could do so in wheelchairs, as their counterparts in the developed world.

The visually impaired, she said, must also not rely on other people to move about when they could also use white canes or guard dogs.

“In Ghana, a significant population of the people irk a living through begging, which is very dehumanising. Persons with disabilities rather need decent jobs for sustainable livelihoods,” she said.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Madam Otiko Djaba said the Government was, therefore, determined to work with both national and international stakeholders to free them from the limitations, stigmatisation and poverty that they were subjected to.

The Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, she said, would timeously lead series of stakeholder-consultations, advocacy, and needs assessment exercises and the active involvement of persons with disabilities.

These would be aimed at thoroughly creating an enabling and happy environment for persons with disabilities effortless thrive.

Addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, Madam Otiko Djaba said, this must be seen as a birth right issue that no one must struggle to demand for.

The Ministry would, therefore, work with all the other Ministries, community-based organisations, civil society groups, the private-sector and international partners to achieve far-reaching success.

She said to be able to develop tailor-made the solutions, the Ministry would, target the family level, identify and build a reliable database of all the persons, and work with the stakeholders to identify their specific needs for holistic redress.

“I have come to realise that people with disabilities are so talented, because each of us have some talent or skill, which must be harnessed for our individual and collective benefits in the society,” she said.

“Unfortunately, some societies throw out persons with disabilities or even want to end their lives when they are so young because they don’t have any hope in them,” she said, adding that this situation is totally unacceptable.

“Nobody becomes disabled by choice; you are either born with it or become one through an accident so society must see it as their responsibility to carry you along.”

She said Ghanaians must, therefore, open their hearts and minds with utmost tolerance to embrace the Government’s agenda for Change, intended to create jobs and give equal opportunities for all.

“We must sit up and realise that where there is equality, there is dignity and respect for all, but where there is exclusion, the victims become the burden of the whole society,” she said.

On the legislative issues, Madam Otiko Djaba said the laws against discrimination would be enforced against abuses.

The Ministry would also work the Ghana Federation of the Disabled and other stakeholders to complete the work on reviewing the Persons with Disability Act (Act 715, 2006) to meet the standards of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The 10-day Session is on the theme: “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.”


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