Empower persons with disabilities the right to live with dignity | Sunday Observer

Empower persons with disabilities the right to live with dignity

5 December, 2021

Two days ago on International Day of Persons with Disabilities ( Dec 3) world attention was drawn to a subject that sadly needs more focus due to the fact that despite that an estimated 15%of the world’s population live with some form of disability, it is not considered a subject of high priority in most health calendars.

Evidence shows that few strides towards their welfare have been taken compared to other areas of health even after this Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as far back as 1992.

The Sunday Observer spoke to Head of Rehabilitation Services, MJF Charitable Foundation, Dr Gopi Kitnasamy who has been closely involved in the welfare of persons with disabilities- especially children for much of his life to find out what special needs they had .

As the term disability has many interpretations, we asked him to define it in simple language for our readers ’ benefit. In response he said, “ Disability is a physical or a mental condition that makes it difficult for someone to do the things that other people do. It can be visible or invisible. Today, disability is understood to arise from the interaction between a person’s health condition or impairment and the multitude of influencing factors in their environment.

Asked if there were different types of disabilities, and what type in Sri Lanka, he said, Physical disability is the most common type globally as well as in Sri Lanka. A person may be born with a physical disability or acquire it in life due to an accident, injury, illness or as a side effect of a medical condition, or premature birth. It results in reduced ability, or inability, to perform body movements such as walking, moving their hands and arms, sitting and standing as well as controlling their muscles.. “

Replying to a question on who were those most at risk of developing these disabilities, he told Medi Snips “. More than 46 percent of older persons, those aged 60 years and over have some form of disabilities. . Greater prevalence of nonfatal disabling conditions, including fractures, osteoporosis, back problems, osteoarthritis and depression, contributes substantially to greater disability and diminished quality of life among aging women compared with men.””

In his message to readers he stated, “As a nation the need of the hour is to collectively promote better understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The 2012 population census estimates 1.6 million in Sri Lanka which is 8 percent of our population as having a disability . However this figure didn’t cover all types of disabilities and not all persons with disabilities were included and it is likely the actual numbers are much more today.”