Capacity building, strategy needed to help disabled: Experts
The first World Congress on community-based rehabilitation (CBR) Wednesday called for coordinated efforts to implement CBR globally and adopting effective strategies to enhance quality of life of persons with disability (PWDs), especially those living in developing countries.
The Agra Declaration, which was unanimously adopted here on the concluding day of the three-day Congress (Nov 26-28), focuses on developing partnerships to promote and implement CBR internationally as a part of developmental policies and programmes.
It also calls for united efforts for providing adequate resources and ensuring adequate participation of women and children with disabilities in the welfare programmes aimed at them, and bring down communication barriers to give a fresh momentum to strategies to reduce poverty.
Attended by over 1,200 participants, including over 200 people with disabilities, from across 86 countries, the event saw many presentations, discussions and deliberations on laws, social scenarios, developmental needs, human rights and related issues of concern to the disabled.
Speaking at the plenary, Keshav Desiraju, additional secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, stressed on the need for governments to be more consultative in nature.
Differentiating between illness and disability, he said, "They cannot be clubbed together, and hence treatment and rehabilitation needs to be seen differently."
Malcolm MacLachlan of the Centre for Global Health and School of Psychology, Trinity College, London, emphasised that CBR should not only be viewed as a tool to improve the lives of PWDs, but also a document towards making policy changes.
Chapal Khasnabis, member of disability and rehabilitation team, World Health Organization, said that a triple track approach -- rehabilitation, rights and reforms -- was needed to bring significant changes in the quality of life of persons with disability.
Einar Helander, a leading proponent of CBR, demanded that Taj Mahal be made accessible to PWDs.
Andrew de Carpentier, chairman, World Wide Hearing Care for Developing Countries, said more people with hearing impairment should participate in such events.
He suggested the idea of a "hearing express", whereby audiometry services, making of ear mould and hearing aids can done "on the spot". "This can be easily achieved by adopting a new technology of using self-fitting ear moulds," he said.
Napa Setthakorn, secretary-general, National Office for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Thailand, supported the concept of providing online training.
She said that participating countries should adopt "online courses" to attract trained human resources to help PWDs.
Karen Heinicke Motsch, chairperson, CBR taskforce on confidence building measures, said the PWD community should lead the way in effectively implementing the WHO's CBR guidelines that have been jointly developed by the civil societies and the United Nations bodies.
Khasnabis, the architect of the congress, said that he wanted to see that people with disabilities be included in every sphere of life.