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Inclusive health services for disabled

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By Mercy Kelani

The inclusion of persons with disabilities in healthcare services is considered.

As of 2020, the report stated that approximately 27 million Nigerians live with one form of disability or another. There are many types of disabilities in Nigeria causing a variety of impairments, such as visual, hearing, physical, intellectual and speech. The disabilities are mostly caused by Poverty, disease, inadequate Nutrition, inefficient health services, unclean environments, and poor Infrastructure. Often times, people with disabilities are faced with stigma that makes them draw back from society, economics, and Politics.

Based on the idea of making healthcare services inclusive for disabled people, Dr Selben Penzin, an ophthalmologist, senior program manager at Sightsavers, and Public Health researcher, stated that there are more visible disadvantages attached with persons with disabilities concerning access to health. These disadvantages lead to adverse socio-economic outcomes and increased rates of poverty than the whole population. Apart from that, they are challenged by attitudes and environmental barriers which obstruct their efficient contribution to the society.

Most persons with disabilities live in poverty.

It has been estimated that nine out of ten persons living with disabilities live in poverty. However, despite the estimated millions of Nigerians with disabilities, there is public buildings. Internal steps, narrow doorways, inadequate bathroom facilities and inaccessible parking areas are all additional barriers to those who require wheelchair access. Lack of the aforementioned needs makes them draw back easily without having to participate in normal activities. Disability inclusion is therefore employed to make them feel like every other able human.

Disability inclusion is an act that sees to the participation of people with disabilities in day-to-day activities. Their inclusion in everyday activities inspires them to do things that their colleagues who have no form of disability do. In order to efficiently carry out disability inclusion, regarding health services especially, adequate policies have to be in place, together with its implementation urging organizations and companies to embrace them. The consideration of disability inclusion in health service is also for the benefit of everyone.

Inclusive healthcare services would have a positive impact on them.

Dr Penzin further added that his work as the program manager for Eye Health on Inclusive Futures, for the improvement of eye care services for disabled people in Nigeria.  His work has made him clearly observe the positive impact that disability inclusive healthcare services can have on persons with disabilities who have always been deprived of these required services. With the inclusion, there would be little or no difficulty with them functioning properly even with their disabilities.

The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (prohibition) Act 2018, signed into law in 2019, is yet to be implemented. The law made provisions for the right to Education, employment, health, and accessibility of physical structure. Also, The National Community of Persons Living With Disabilities addressed the Accessibility Minimum Standard Policy which dictates the accessibility of all public buildings to persons with disabilities. The law is to become operational in January 2024; Non-compliance to its provisions attracts a fine. To avoid non-compliance, there are steps that organizations should take.

Organizations are advised to plan ahead of the implementation of the law.

To ensure adequate preparation for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in healthcare services, organizations are advised to plan ahead, allocating sufficient time to design their project; engage persons with disabilities, meaningfully; put facilities that are accessible in place; train staff and partners on inclusion; gather inclusive data; and share knowledge. The implementation of the National Disability Act, although not fully implemented, requires effort at all levels to successfully take away barriers that cause difficulty in the inclusion of persons with disabilities.


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