The Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi last Saturday held a forum for Persons living With Disabilities (PWDs) on the theme: ‘Pastoral Care to Persons with Disabilities: The Role of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi’.
The forum was part of activities marking the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Sekondi-Takoradi Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Diocesan Director of Health, Rev. Fr Eric Kwasi Elliason, speaking on the topic: ‘Reaching out to Persons with Disabilities: Challenges and Prospects’, noted that it was unfortunate that PWDs were not given the needed recognition in society.
The celebration was dedicated to a sensitisation project to remind all that PWDs “are created in the image and likeness of God, and deserved our respect and attention”.
Rev. Fr Elliason referred to the United Nations 2018 report which indicated that “persons with disabilities continued to face numerous barriers to their full inclusion and participation in the life of their communities, the report shed light on their disproportionate levels of poverty, lack of access to education, health services, employment, under representation in decision-making and political participation, especially women and girls with disabilities”.
He noted that the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities adopted a broad categorisation of these persons and reaffirmed that these persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
He said despite all the laws and good policies that sought to protect and promote the rights of PWDs, they still suffered inhuman and discriminatory treatment, adding, “The main challenges and barriers to reaching out to persons with disabilities include discrimination and stigma on the ground of disability, lack of accessibility to physical and virtual environments.”
The Director of Health intimated that data and statistics compiled and analysed in the recent report indicated that PWDs were not yet sufficiently included in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He noted that the prejudice was a major setback to effectively reach to this class of persons, adding, “If we don’t break through this barrier and see these people as humans created in the image and likeness of God, no matter the brilliant interventions we suggest, we will not dare implement any of them.”
Rev. Fr Elliason said the church had set up a chaplaincy like other chaplains (hospital, Armed Forces, schools and others) to champion the rights of PWDs.
FROM PETER GBAMBILA, FIJAI