International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Sierra Leone
One of our brilliant partners in Sierra Leone, Dr Abs Dumbuya, who works with us on the AT2030 project, recently wrote a letter on the celebrations in the country on International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December and the progress the country has made.
“This morning, our day - the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) is commemorated on every 3rd December, and always great to celebrate it with communities in informal settlements (SLUM Dwellers).
I started my morning at the Thomson Bay Community, Off Wilkinson Road as Guest Speaker at the event organised by the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) in collaboration with University College London (UCL) and Federation of Urban Poor (FEDURP).
The theme this year of the IDPD is leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world.
My message focused on the use of Assistive Technology (AT) to encourage full participation of persons with disabilities and I also emphasised on the fact that access to (ATs) can be the difference between failure or success in school, employment or unemployment, a life of opportunity or of dependency. This is poignant in an our ageing society and the increased in road traffic accidents, etc. This followed the recent launch of two key documents: (1) AT Policy and Strategic Plan (2021-2025) and (2) AT Priority Products List of Sierra Leone by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Global Disability Innovation (GDI), World Health Organisation (WHO) and UK-Aid (FCDO). The background work that led to these two key documents showed that there are over a billion people living with disabilities globally, but only one tenth have access to the assistive products, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, prostheses, and eyeglasses. That’s 90 percent who are left behind!!! This gap is most prominent in low- and middle-income countries, like Sierra Leone.
I also reminded them about the world of COVID-19 pandemic and deepening pre-existing inequalities COVID-19 has now created…This year the International Day of Persons with Disabilities reflects that with the theme “leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world”. People with disabilities are among the most excluded and hardest hit by this crisis in terms of fatalities, according to the United Nations. In addressing some of these challenges, the Dorothy Springer Trust (DST) developed a project to write and produce a song to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
I was able to present certificates to healthcare champions who have been trained to relay health conditions to medical doctors. This was a project by SLURC, FEDURP and UCL, in which the community selected this particular intervention because it was affordable and accessible.
This is my own contribution toward the international day for persons with disability and in true to the theme, I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to LEAD as a person with disability.
Dr Abs Dumbuya
Technology Specialist & Disability Rights Advocate”
For more information see at2030.org or email email@example.com