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World Down Syndrome Day, March 21st

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By Mercy Kelani

FG and National Assembly should ensure enforcement of the 2018 law.

The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 strongly prohibits any form of discrimination on the stance of disability. Consequently, President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly are expected to ensure strict enforcement of this law across the nation. Relevant government agencies are also urged to increase awareness of the provisions of the Act and the need to comply with it. Awareness and compliance to the Act would greatly eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities.

This year’s commemoration of World Down Syndrome Day centered on provision of adequate care for people with down syndrome and other forms of disability; discussions and activities also focused on the plight of children with special needs. World Down Syndrome Day, celebrated annually on March 21 across the globe, discusses likely challenges encountered by people living with this disability and provides feasible ways through which the government and society can help in mitigation of their situation.

Persons with the Down syndrome should be involved in decision making.

2023’s theme for the international day was “With Us, Not For Us”. This theme means that people with down syndrome possess inalienable rights just as every other human. It also emphasized the fact that they should be involved in decision making processes of issues that affect them in the place of work, family, government institutions and the Soviet at large; having a say in decision making processes makes them believe that their opinions and preferences matter. It encourages them to know that down syndrome is not a death sentence.

Mrs. Duma Edward-Dibiana a special educator and an advocate for the rights of children with special needs, stated that the message passed by this year’s commemoration is that people living with down syndrome require the support of everyone to make their personal choices, embraced, accepted and regarded as people who are capable of making their own decisions. As a result, the mother of a child with Down syndrome stated that issues that concern them should not be concluded without their consent or input.

The condition is a major cause of intellectual disability.

According to experts, down syndrome is a condition whereby a human possesses an extra chromosome. People who live with this condition are vulnerable to various health challenges which include intellectual disability and internal organ defects. Researchers have it that the most common cause of intellectual disability around the world is down syndrome. Although researchers are yet to figure out the cause of the syndrome, it has always existed as a human condition. It exists in all regions of the world, causing diverse effects on learning styles, health and physical characteristics.

Based on research, individuals with the syndrome can be encouraged to have optimal quality of life through medical guidance, parental support and care, and support systems provided by the community like inclusive Education at all levels. However, in Nigeria, there are limitations to maximizing the potentials of persons living with the Down Syndrome. These obstacles include limited access to proper education and health resources. Most at times, they suffer stigmatization, discrimination, prejudices and even rejection at work or public places.

Classroom practices should be modified to suit PLWDs.

Additionally, people living with the syndrome require inclusive education which provides equity in access and opportunities to education and resources that care for their needs. Modification of classroom practices to suit those with and without the syndrome or any other disability should be considered. The incoming government was likewise urged to take deliberate steps for protection of persons with down syndrome and other disabilities through strict enforcement of the 2018 Act and other laws that protect their interests.


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