By Chioma Obinna & Oluchi Muogbo
THE Down Syndrome Association of Nigeria (DSAN) yesterday alleged that the physically challenged in the society were not only relegated and stigmatised but denied their constitutionally guaranteed rights like other Nigerians even as it disclosed that over 300,000 people in Nigeria had down syndrome.
Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by an error in cell division that results in an extra 21st chromosome.Â It is associated with intellectual disability, a characteristic facial appearance, and poor muscle tone (hypotonia) in infancy.
Making this assertion in Lagos at press conference to herald the Associationâ€™s 2009 Awareness Week/departure of the two DSAN children with a hole in the heart to Indian for a life-saving surgical operation, the President of the Association, Mrs. Rose Mordi, also urged the government to provide enabling environment that would help these children actualise their potentials and live full independent lives as it is obtained in other parts of the world.
Lamenting their plights, Mordi said God had not made a mistake in creation and in every of His creation, He embedded some talents and potentials which must be allowed expressions.
Her words: â€œTherefore, we must now collectively resolve to take proactive steps to ensure that not only does society adopt a better attitude towards people with down syndrome particularly and other challenged people generally but that structures are put in place to enable them actualise their potentials.â€
Mordi, specially, called for establishment of functional medial facilities that would carter for the medical needs of these children, adding that early intervention both in medical, education and social integration are all it takes to make these children fulfil their dreams like other â€˜normal childrenâ€™.
Mordi who further disclosed that no fewer than five children with hole in the heart had benefitted from the Life Line Support Programme of the Association this year, said the centre in Lagos was servicing at least 60 per cent of family problems with minor medical problems from all parts of Nigeria.
She also affirmed that the Association needs a total of N97 million for the procurement of a land for a permanent resource centre in Abuja, a bus shuttle for the children, medical intervention facilities amongst others.
Also speaking, Media Communication Officer of DSAN, Mr. Ahaoma Kanu who explained that the 8thÂ Awareness Week of the Association billed to for October 3 -11, with a charity walk also announced that two DSAN babies, Felicia Oyinloye, Etim Gabriel â€” would be leaving for India today (yesterday) courtesy of First Bank, MTN, Nigeria, religious houses and individuals.
Kanu said the theme of the week-long event, â€œWe are More Alike than Differentâ€ was to create awareness among Nigerians on the plight of those living with the condition as well as let Nigerians know about the condition and the need for early intervention.Â He said week would be packed full of activities; ranging from Charity walk, Seminars, Awards, Dinner and amongst others.