March 27, 2024

WDSD: End stereotypes, relegation parents tells FG, UN, civil organizations



 Parents under the Umbrella Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria, and the Parent Teachers Association has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria, the United Nations, and civil organisation to wage war against racism against persons with Down syndrome and other people with disabilities.

The parents who made this call while responding to questions recently at a pivotal webinar hosted by the Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria, to mark the 2024 World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) tagged we all belong: embrace, engage, end the stereotypes revealed that Down syndrome is not a disease and it cannot be cured by a particular medication or by antibiotic.

The National President, Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria, Mrs. Rose Mordi noted in her address that the gathering was necessitated to get on a journey to break down barriers, challenge misconceptions, and build a world where people with Down syndrome are celebrated for their unique abilities. “Our theme for this year encapsulates the essence of our collective mission. Engagement is a cornerstone of progress because it fosters meaningful connections and interactions that pave the way for understanding and acceptance. Let us inspire a ripple effect that transcends virtual borders, leading to tangible transformations in attitudes and policies. Let us embrace the differences that make each of us unique, recognizing the inherent value that diversity brings to our communities.

In doing so, we contribute to a tapestry of inclusivity that reaches the fabric of our society.” The Vice Chairperson, Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria, Parents Teachers Association, Mrs. Ugwuegbulam Ruth, speaking on behalf of the special needs Parents maintained that children with Down syndrome laugh, cry, learn, and love just like everyone else, and “they may take longer to achieve certain milestones, but that’s perfectly okay. We want to remind us to spread awareness that Down syndrome is a condition that has to be managed to help the child live an almost independent life in the future. I was a young mother who gave birth to my child when I was 24 years old. Children with Down syndrome are unusually born by mothers not having their child at an early age”, she said. She urged the Nigerian medical practitioners to acquire more knowledge about this condition, as parents are usually on the receiving end when it comes to these stereotypes.

Adding that their humanity should come before their disabilities. In a communiqué jointly signed by the National President, Mrs. Rose Mordi, and the National Administrator, Mrs. Nike Denis, it was called on stakeholders to be committed to taking tangible actions in the communities to create a more inclusive and equitable society for individuals with Down syndrome and all individuals with diverse abilities to #endthestereotypes now. The program director of Down Syndrome International (DSI), Mr. Nathan Rowe, who is also one of the panelists, stressed while speaking on the campaign on the health equity of persons with Down Syndrome that access to good health and good quality care that meet their needs produce health equity, adding that there was a lot of evidence from around the world that revealed that people with this disability do not have health equity, so people with disabilities die younger than other people. When asked about factors that cause health inequity and what can be done to improve health equity, Nathan said, “Health inequities are due to unfair, unjust, and avoidable situations that afflict persons with disabilities inappropriately: stigma and discrimination, inadequate policies and processes, living in poverty, transport not being accessible, not being physically active, having a poor diet, badly trained health professionals, and poor quality health service.

 Improving health systems can improve and increase the life span of people with Down syndrome. If there are low or no barriers to people with disabilities accessing health care services, if health professionals provide quality care for all. When people with disabilities have access to quality health care that meets their needs, it is sure that they can compete with everybody else in society. These are big steps we can take to make health equity fair for people with disabilities.” The panelists, which include the General Manager, Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA), Mrs. Adenike Oyetunde-Lawal, Clinical and Educational Psychologist, Professor Roy Brown, convener of the Ibadan Down Syndrome Parent Forum, Princess Christiana Nwankwo, Inclusion Advocate: Global Consultant and Scholar, and Professor Paul Ajuwon, pointed out that the big global move forward in dismantling stereotypes that surround these disabilities is a collaborative effort.