By Sola Ogundipe

Persons with Disabilities, (PWDs) in Nigeria have demanded attention for their inclusion in events and activities within society. The agitation for recognition, which is in line with international provisions, pertains to creation of avenues within the health sector that would accommodate key issues concerning basic human rights of the PWDs.

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In the view of the Programmes Manager of the Nigeria Association of the Blind, NAB, Ejiro Okotie, inclusion is a right for everybody and not a privilege as often perceived.

Speaking during  a media round-table to commemorate the 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities,  she stated: “When we talk about inclusion and relating it with PWDs, what comes to mind is ‘they have come again’, but we need to understand that inclusion is everybody’s right. It is not a privilege or for a few individuals. It is a right that every individual should enjoy.”

The event themed: “Empowering Persons with Disabilities and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality”   focused on issues pertaining inclusiveness of PWDs in the society and ensuring no one is left behind.

Organised by Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria in collaboration with NAB1 and supported by Amplify Change, the event is implementing a project titled: Voices for Change: Promoting increased uptake of Sexual and Reproductive Health, (SRH) services among People with Disabilities (PWDs) in Lagos State.

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Okotie quoted UN reports that 15 percent of the world’s population are PWDs and in Nigeria, 29.7 million persons are living with disabilities.

“If we are to bring Nigeria’s statistics down to Lagos State, we have 22 million people living in the State and an estimated 10 percent of that population are PWDs, then it is not a figure to sweep under the carpet.

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“It is important to create avenues even in the health sector for PWDs to be able to enjoy their rights and also to give back to the system.”

However, she said PWDs suffer from a lot of issues caused by society such as; infrastructural access as most health facilities are high-rise buildings and often do not consider PWDs during construction.

She lamented lack of useful structures in information access such as lack of Braille on public elevators in Nigeria

She said these are big issues that set PWDs aside as they often dread going to the hospital to access health care in order to avoid being a burden.

The Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs, LASODA, Mr Oguntoye Akintunde Oyewole described as inhumane for a person with wheelchair not have  access a building in the State, stressing that it is the essence of inclusiveness as nobody should be left behind.

He, however commended the Lagos State government for running an all-inclusive policy which have mandated that all public buildings must be constructed with ramps to promote accessibility for PWDs on wheelchairs.

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