General News of Monday, 30 September 2013
Members of Parliament (MP) have expressed unhappiness with the exclusion of Persons with Disability (PWDs) from the government delegation to the just ended 68th United Nations (UN) session.
Nations that attended the session included in their delegation persons with disability, but Ghana Federation of the Disabled said: “In Ghana, no representative from the Federation of the Disabled or National Council on Disabilities or any disability organisation versed in disability information and management attended the meeting”.
The MPs expressed worry that state institutions and actors have not done much to mitigate social challenges facing PWDs for their total inclusion in society and realisation of fundamental human rights.
Mr John Majisi, MP for Krachi Nchumuru and Ms Ursula Owusu, MP for Ablekuma West, said at a joint media and parliamentary caucus forum over the weekend that, matters affecting PWDs must be taken seriously and not considered as afterthoughts by duty-bearers.
Ms Owusu said in other jurisdictions, PWDs were treated with dignity and respect, adding in those areas, “blind and deaf persons drive cars and live normal lives just like any other person.”
She said it was sad that PWDs and other vulnerable groups had been left to their fate, and GFD had to raise funds on their own to support such persons, a responsibility government and society have ignored.
She added that it was unfortunate matters affecting PWDs were looked at as afterthought, saying “what is happening is a reflection of society’s negative attitude towards PWDs and that must stop.”
Ms Owusu called on government and state institutions to identify PWDS at birth and develop commensurate social interventions, programmes and policies for their total inclusion in the society.
Mr Majisi said disability is no more a medical issue that used to centre on the individual, but now a social one bordering the entire society.
He said Ghana was lagging behind its agenda to address challenges facing PWDs and urged organisations, ministries, departments and agencies to integrate disability matters in their plans, policies and programmes.
This is the second time government has excluded PWDs from its delegation to a high level meeting in New York, contrary to the international philosophy for effective inclusion of persons with disability in decision-making, said Mr Isaac Tuggun, GFD Focal Person.
He said GFD has registered its leaders for the meeting, and their participation was confirmed through invitation letters and identity numbers.
Mr Tuggun added that the officers had also acquired visas from the American Embassy in Ghana for the trip and all that was left was their inclusion in the government delegation.
But government said it was unable to foot the cost of flight, accommodation and feeding of two people nominated by the Federation,” said Mr Tuggun.
In July 2013, a preparatory meeting for the 68th session was held in USA with participating countries including PWDs in their delegations, but Ghana did not include any PWDs in theirs.
Mr Tuggun explained that the disability movement had submitted a list of proposed representatives to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, but three were selected and assisted to secure visas.
They were dropped at the last minute on the ground that there was no money to include them in the delegation, he said.