Dec 23, 2017 News
A survey by the National Commission on Disability has uncovered that there are in excess of
3,000 people living with disabilities in Region Six alone. This figure, according to Senior Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence, has “surely exceeded expectations.”
The Commission, according to the Minister, has in fact commenced a survey for disabled persons which has already reached Regions Two, Five, Six and 10.
“So far Region Six’s data has been analyzed and we have found 3,267 persons with some form of disability,” Minister Lawrence revealed.
According to the Minister, given the impact of disability, considerable and consistent efforts are being made to cater to persons with disabilities.
In this regard, she disclosed that as part of the rehabilitation week of activities in June of this year, a massive school screening project was executed in Region Two along the Essequibo coast. This move allowed for children attending six nursery schools in the region to be screened for various hearing, speech and physical impairments.
During the course of this year too, Minister Lawrence said that 19 differently-able young adults graduated from the Open Doors Vocational School. To date, seven of these differently-able young adults have been employed at various agencies, including at the Ministry of Public Health.
Added to this, Lawrence revealed that community-based training was completed by 30 participants from various backgrounds who returned to their communities to ensure timely delivery, intervention and access to the rehabilitation services.
Article 26 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for countries to make rehabilitation available at the earliest possible stage and make rehabilitation services available as close as possible to people’s communities, including the rural and hinterland areas. For many health conditions, including injury, rehabilitation is beneficial along the continuum of care. As such, Minister Lawrence underscored that it is important that persons in the hinterland and rural areas have access to follow-up services in the community, following discharge from hospital.
“These outcomes are not only significant and beneficial for the persons receiving care, but will also confer considerable advantages on the health system,” she asserted.
The public health sector has also been forging strategic collaborations to advance its efforts to address the needs of persons with disabilities. This, according to the Minister, resulted in 435 patients benefiting when its Audiology Department partnered with the Starkey Hearing Foundation this year.
The parent company of the Starkey Hearing Foundation is Starkey Hearing Technologies, which is the largest producer of hearing aids in the United States. In fact, it is one of the top six producers of hearing aids in the world.
The beneficiaries were screened in March and June last, an undertaking which saw 870 hearing aids being distributed.
“This was all free of cost to the patients, and they will have these hearing aids with a lifetime warranty, and all patients will receive batteries free of cost for their devices,” informed Minister Lawrence.
She disclosed that the hearing aids will provide valuable benefits to improve the quality of life of the patients in a number of important ways. The Minister sought to amplify that the significant gains will: ensure patients hear better in situations that are important to them; allow them to stay connected; ensure that they do not become a burden to others; be able to identify speech amidst noise; be able to stay sharp; be alert to what’s happening around them and, most importantly, be able to work longer and earn more.
“Studies clearly demonstrate that untreated loss of hearing can impact your success on the job, with even a mild hearing loss reducing earning potential. Using hearing aids can help you communicate successfully on the job so you maintain your productivity, professional standing and income,” the Public Health Minister emphasised.
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