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06.02.2009 Social News

Govt. to address concerns of people with physical challenges - Mills


President John Evans Atta Mills on Thursday
reaffirmed Government's commitment to take appropriate actions to address concerns of people with physical challenges to enhance their contribution

to national development.
He said nobody was immune to disability and there was also no reason why any sector of the public should be disadvantaged because of physical challenges.

“What they need is not discrimination; they need understanding from us, and our willingness to appreciate their challenges,” President Mills said, when a delegation from the Ghana Federation of the Disabled paid a courtesy call on him at the Castle, Osu.

The delegation was at the Castle to congratulate President Mills on his assumption of office.

It is estimated that persons with disabilities form about 10 per cent of the population.

President Mills said all Ghanaians were children of God and citizens of the nation who contributed in diverse ways to the national development process, noting that some people with physical challenges were geniuses in their fields of endeavours.

He assured the delegation that Government would take their concerns on board and address them.

Mr Samuel Kusi Asare, President of the Federation, using sign language which was interpreted, said the Federation had, since its establishment, been the mouthpiece of people with disabilities in Ghana.

He said the Federation had lobbied for the development and adoption of a disability policy in the 2000, followed by an advocacy for the passage of the Disability Act (Act 715) in 2006.

The Federation also successfully got the Electoral Commission to take into consideration the challenges of Persons with Disability (PWD) in the 2004 and the 2008 elections while it has been advocating for the Government of Ghana to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

However, the Government of Ghana was yet to ratify the Convention, Mr Asare said, adding that, the Federation had also increased awareness on rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities.

Mr Asare applauded the Government for its commitment to promote the cause of persons with disabilities in Ghana, as contained in the manifesto of the ruling National Democratic Congress, saying the Party demonstrated its commitment by producing a Braille version of the manifesto for visually impaired persons.

The Federation stressed that the inauguration of the National Council on Persons with Disabilities was a pressing issue.

Mr Asare explained that the Persons with Disability Act (Act 715, 2006) called for the establishment of a national council that would have the responsibility to plan and monitor the implementation of the Act.

According to Mr Asare, nominations had been made for the membership of the Council almost a year ago, but it was yet to be inaugurated.

He therefore appealed to the President to inaugurate it within 100 days

of his inauguration to secure the rights of people with disabilities.

The Federation also called for the appointment of competent and qualified people with disabilities to higher political offices.

It also called for the institution of measures for the effective disbursement of their two per cent share of the District Assemblies' Common Fund as well as sufficient budgetary allocations for Special Needs Education.

A part of the visit, Mr Benjamin Nyameye, who is physically challenged in the limbs, presented an artwork of a portrait of the President to him.

President Atta Mills expressed his appreciation to Mr Nyameye.