AFRICA/GHANA - Two million people with disabilities still hampered by lack of infrastructure and architectural barriers

Monday, 10 October 2011

Accra (Agenzia Fides) - In Ghana, according to estimates by the World Health Organization, there are 2 million disabled people, between 7 to 10% of the population of the country. Five years after the approval of the 'Persons with Disability Act' there are still very few changes which have occurred in the lives of disabled people. On paper, the measures promised them job opportunities, free education, infrastructure and adequate means of transport, as well as social integration. The reality is very different. People with disabilities continue to be victims of abuse and insults. Many move supporting themselves on pieces of plywood, others roam the streets begging. Currently none of the measures provided for by law have been carried out. The project of a legislative act which should restart the clauses related to employment, education, judicial measures, and architectural barriers, have been blocked between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Office of the Attorney General. In Accra, there are some buildings which are accessible to the disabled, but there are no barriers, from the open gutters to old buildings with only steep stairs and no elevator. In more recent buildings there are no ramps for wheelchairs and other infrastructure, present only in the offices of the Ministry of Welfare. The Act also required the establishment of a National Council for Persons with Disabilities. The council has been formed but it is under funded. According to the institutions, over the years this area has never been taken seriously and has not been funded as others, for the authorities there is a lack of sensitivity towards the cause. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 10/10/2011)