A new study has revealed that exclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the planning of services that target them is fuelling the spread of HIV/Aids and unwanted pregnancies among them.
Speaking at the dissemination workshop for the study findings last week, Florence Ndagire the project coordinator ‘My Story my Life,’ said persons with disabilities interviewed in the districts of Lira, Apac, Iganga, Mbale, Wakiso, Kiboga , Mbarara and Hoima complained of being isolated when decisions on matters affecting them are being taken.
“PWDs have barriers to access to education, information in schools, trained teachers, health services mothers with disabilities have no maternity beds, information on HIV/Aids,” she said explaining, for example, that people with disabilities such as deafness and blindness are supposed to have helpers such as sign language interpreters or guides but there are no policies that guide how such people are trained, recruited or trained to handle such disabilities.
She added that many have have been raped because they think they are virgins born with charms that can cure HIV/Aids, barrenness, impotence once they have sex with them,” she said adding that once especially the women conceive, the men run away from them sometimes after infecting them with HIV/Aids and other STDs.
The study which was commissioned last year by Action on Disability and Development International, National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda (Nudipu) and Light of the World Netherlands, to understand how Uganda as party to the international protocol on the Convention of Rights of Persons with Disability has incorporated PWDs needs to national policies.
While opening the workshop, Hellen Asamo, the Member of Parliament representing PWDS from Eastern Uganda asked government to look at disability from a national perspective rather than limited to ministry of Gender.
“Disability is a cross cutting issue which should not be limited to one ministry because look at UPDF, The Police, Prisons, ministry of Education or Health, there will always be people with disabilities,” she said adding with PWDs constituting 16 per cent of the population.
Other initiatives advocated for are; encourage nutritional counseling and immunisation of children with disabilities (CWDS). This can be improved through community based growth monitoring programmes like identifying malnourished CWDS and encourage their families to adopt supplementary feeding. This will help to prevent polio and under weight.