Ghanaian Chronicle

Respect our Rights … Persons With Disability tell public, service providers

Date published: October 8, 2012

Stories from William Jalulah

Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the Upper East Region say their rights are most often been trodden upon by their able counterparts for what is no fault of theirs, especially in public institutions.

According to them, wherever they appear for official duties, people take them for beggars and treat them as such. They lamented that there was still stigmatisation and discrimination against their fundamental human rights.

At an engagement meeting with duty bearers organised by Rural Initiative for Self-Empowerment (RISE-Ghana), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in collaboration with the German Center for International Cooperation and Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) in Bolgatanga on Wednesday, persons with disabilities shared the trauma which most of them have had to go through in the hands of society by virtue of their disabilities.

They also lamented over how public institutions like hospitals pay ill-attention to them whenever they visit these places.

They reminded the public and stakeholders that disability was not a choice, but that anybody could suffer from diseases or accidents that could eventually leave them disabled.

Madam Josephine Koumkugri, Bolgatanga Municipal Chairperson of the Ghana Federation for the Disabled, called on the Ghana Health Service to stop violating the rights of pregnant women with disability, by assuming that they cannot have normal delivery, and should therefore, be forced to undergo cesarean operation, citing herself as an example.

Madam Gladys Waadi, Regional Women’s President of the Ghana Blind Union, also urged health workers to stop the attitude of mocking and calling pregnant women with disabilities all sorts of derogatory names.

According to her, it was common to hear nurses and health workers say, “You blind/cripple woman too and you are getting pregnant”? “Don’t they know that we have rights to form a family?” She asked rhetorically, and stressed that “this attitude must stop.”

All duty bearers were urged to treat PWDs with dignity, adopt an inclusive approach to development, and put the necessary measures to make their premises accessible in line with provisions of the Constitution.

They also called on the National Sports Council to ensure that structures in the sports stadia should also be designed to consider the interest of PWDs.

On road use, the PWDs said there was no alarm at the traffic lights to blow to signal or alert them go or stop, and so they cannot cross roads by themselves. Roads have also been made to limit their movements.

Illiterate PLWDs with hearing impairment are not able to communicate with health professionals. They, therefore, called on health training institutions to include a curriculum on sign language to help products of these institutions to be able to communicate effectively with their clients, or better still, hospitals should engage the services of interpreters.

Mr. Awal Ahmed, Project Manager of RISE-Ghana, in his opening address, said the purpose of the engagement meeting was to provide a platform and voice for PWDs to interact and demand accountability from duty bearers such as GES, GHS, MPs, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and private institutions on the progress they have made, or the commitment they have towards implementing the provisions of the PWD Act, the 3% District Assembly Common Fund Guidelines, and the UN Conventions on the Rights of PWDs.”

As part of this project, an accessibility audit of public structures, schools and sporting facilities was conducted in the Bawku and Bolgatanga municipalities, with a very sad and disturbing revelation, as 95% of the structures were not disability friendly.

Mr. Awal said he was grateful to the German Centre for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) for supporting this project, and urged the media to take this fight for inclusive development further, especially, now that politicians had their ears on the ground.

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