New Horizons in Rehabilitation [Archives:1997/40/Health]
of the Disabled
Ismail Al-Ghabiri & Adel Moqbel Yemen Times
The National Training Course on Community-Based Rehabilitation and Income Generation for the Disabled was held in Sana’a during 20-28 September. Organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs, the course was attended by more than 100 representatives from various national and international NGOs concerned with the issues of disability. Lectures, and case studies were presented by specialists from Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Oman, Palestine, and international volunteers from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Rada Barnen organization branch in Yemen. The course also included field visits to the community-based rehabilitation projects at Thula and Hababa in the Governorate of Sana’a.
Background Coinciding with the UN Decade for the Disabled, the Yemeni government started to provide better care facilities for the disabled since the late 80s. With the UNDP and ILO assistance, two centers were established in Sana’a and Aden to provide disabled people with vocational training, rehabilitation, and placement services to help integrate them into the socio-economic life of the community. The number of disabled people in Yemen is currently estimated at about 1,700,000, which is about 10% of the population. This is quite high. The majority of these cases are found mainly in the countryside. Further burden is put on the families of these disabled people by the backward way society in general views disability. Unemployment among disabled people is 3 or 4 times higher than the national average.
The Project An agreement was signed in 1995 by the Yemeni government, the UNDP and the ILO to further develop this important sector. The current two-year project was started at the beginning of 1996. It has estimated international and local budgets of $988,300 and YR 3,447,156, respectively. Three major objectives are specified for this project: 1- Improving the operational capacity of the Sana’a and Aden centers, which includes the development of the manpower, facilities, and training and operational methods for the beneficiaries. 2- Providing a conceptual and practical frame work for the strategy of community-based rehabilitation as an international process suitable for Yemen. 3- Developing the governmental policies and legislation regarding rehabilitating the disabled.
In the Field Of the 153 cases of disability documented by a field survey conducted by a local committee in Thula, 25 were caused by accidents, 85 are congenital due to intermarriages, and 43 cases caused by curable diseases. According to this and other much more extensive information, the rehabilitation center was set up. It offers vocational training in tailoring, handicrafts, silverwork, wood, marble and stucco carving, typing, carpet weaving, and gardening. The ILO, Al-Halali Institute and the Productive Family Society provided the center with the necessary facilities and equipment. The Hababa rehabilitation center started its activities on the 2nd of August this year. It is now providing tailoring courses and classes for the eradication of illiteracy for disabled male and female children. It is hoped that this center will expand its activities in the near future to provide services for the 149 disabled persons in the area. Of those, and to various degrees, 61 are immobile, 23 are deaf and dumb, 43 have congenital disability or mental retardation, and 22 are blind.
Obstacles Studies and surveys conducted locally face many hindrances: 1- Some families feel ashamed and don’t want others to know they have disabled offspring, whether they are boys or girls, children or adults. 2- Some families are unable to realize that a disabled person has the ability to work and be productive according to his or her physical and mental abilities. 3- Families of disabled people lack the cultural and scientific knowledge and awareness regarding the conditions of their offspring. 4- The public in general are not fully awareness of issues of disability. 5- Not much interest is shown by the official media. 6- Lack of facilities and capabilities hinders field work.
Recommendations At the conclusion of the seminar, the Deputy Minister of Social Affairs, Mr. Saleh Ahmed Ali indicated that, “there are many laws and legislation for the benefit of disabled people, but they are not fully implemented.” The participants in this training course came up with the following recommendations:
General Recommendations: * The ministry of Social Affairs should, in cooperation with the Central Statistics Organization, conduct field surveys to accurately document and classify cases of disability so that plans to tackle this problem would be based on more scientific criteria. * Tackling disability issues must be the responsibility of the government, and be included in the more comprehensive national planning schemes. * The National Supreme Committee for Rehabilitating Disabled People should play a bigger role in this field. * Cooperation must be established with the media to raise public awareness of the necessity to tackle the problems of disability.
On Social Rehabilitation * The ministries of Social Affairs and Education should cooperate in adopting the subject of social rehabilitation in school curricula. Universities should conduct studies and research in the field care and rehabilitation of: * A strategy should be adopted to train technical staff and organize more training courses. * Vocational rehabilitation and training centers and projects must be full supported by all relevant government organs.
On Employment & Income Generation * The ministries of Labor, Civil Service, and the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry should coordinate their efforts to employ more disabled people in public and private sector jobs according to their abilities and qualification without any discrimination. * Small income-generating projects for the disabled should be encouraged through providing facilities and soft loans. * The marketing of products manufactured by the disabled should be facilitated by organizing fairs and exhibitions and helping with tax exemptions.
On Legislation * The government should facilitate the swift issuance of a law to care for and rehabilitate the disabled. * A union should be established among all relevant societies to help coordinate efforts and services directed to assist the disabled.