Disturbing disability figures in the Solomon Islands

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THE Acting general secretary for the Solomon Islands National Council of Women and vice president of People with Disabilities Solomon Islands Casper Fa’asala announced last week that there are more than 60,000 people in the Solomon Islands suffering from disabilities.

Mr. Fa’asala made his statement during the launching of the Public Solicitor’s clinic for people with disabilities.

The SIBC carried a bulletin of Mr. Fa’asala’s announcement from which I quote:

“The number of people with disabilities in Solomon Islands is estimated to be more than 60,000, with many caused by preventable situations.

“Mr. Fa’asala said the number was high, and the number of the population living with disabilities in the country was increasing.

“Traffic accidents, chronic health conditions, disease, poor working conditions and a lack of safety equipment have been identified as the main causes.

“And these people are often in poverty because of their disability,” he said.

“Mr. Fa’asala said it is saddening to note that some cases involving people with disabilities have not been attended to by the responsible authorities.

“Mr. Fa’asala commended the Public Solicitor’s Office for establishing the country’s first legal clinic for people with disabilities.”

I would also like to express my own appreciation to the Public Solicitor’s Office in creating a legal clinic to address the concerns, needs and rights of people living in the community with disabilities.

The Solomon Islands must seek to reduce all barriers and to increase opportunities for its people with disabilities, to ensure their full participation in society.

If the Solomon Islands Constitution does not yet provide a strong legislative framework that guarantees the equal rights of people with disabilities then urgent steps should be taken to bring the Constitution in line with other countries that have such guarantees.

I would go further to suggest, if not already provided for in Solomon Islands statutes, that there should be an Employment Equity Act and a Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Solomon Islands Public Service.

The Solomon Islands, to the best of my knowledge, is yet to support the protection and promotion of the rights for people with disabilities through the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Convention if ratified

protects the rights to equality and non-discrimination of persons with disabilities;

explains the types of actions countries should take to ensure that rights are enjoyed by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others;

calls on States Parties to ensure non-discrimination for persons with disabilities in a variety of areas, including freedom of expression and opinion, respect for home and the family, education, health, employment and access to services.

I have written to a representative of the MOHMS to request information on the type and nature of diseases referred to by Mr. Fa’asala impacting on disabilities in the hope that working through the New Zealand based Charitable Trust, ‘Take My Hands,’ I might be able to offer assistance with equipment to aid the recovery of persons with diseases or illnesses that could eventuate in disability or acquire mobility aids to help those with walking difficulties.

 

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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