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Saturday 16 February 2019
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Increase in people living with disabilities

THE number of people with disabilities has increased from an estimated 45,000 to approximately 53,000 says permanent secretary in the Ministry of Social Development Jacinta Bailey-Sobers.

Coupled with this, Bailey-Sobers said the population of older people continues to increase with the commensurate implications as older people are more likely to acquire a disability as they age.

Bailey-Sobers was speaking at the launch of the first national consultation on the revised policy on people with disabilities at the Eastern Regional Sporting Complex, Orange Grove Road, Tacarigua last week.

She said one of the fundamental functions of the government was to protect the rights and freedom of the vulnerable in society, which included people with disabilities.

She said as the government moved towards the creation of a new framework for this country’s development by 2030, all contributions were critical in helping it finalise the second version of the policy.

“Together we must arrive at a consensus on those amendments to the draft revised policy on people with disabilities. We are charged with an enormous and important responsibility.” She said one important requirement was a national policy to serve as a blueprint for advocating the cause and meeting the specific needs of this growing population and for creating enabling environments to allow their full integration, participation and contribution to society.

She said the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) recently required nation states, as a duty of care, to report on the progress of the adoption of the convention.

This country was no exception, she said, and through the ministry’s Disability Affairs Unit, sustained efforts were now proposed to put required structures and strategies in place to comply with the convention.

“In order for our country to achieve the laudable goal of developed- country status by 2030, much work will have to be undertaken to adequately address the needs of this growing cohort. The revised policy must be current, and it must be keeping with international human- rights perspectives on disability and, most important, reflective of those issues people with disabilities, their families, caregivers, NGOs and civil society deem of critical importance.” Bailey-Sobers encouraged all stakeholders, especially the community with disabilities to participate fully and let their voices be heard during the consultations.

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