International Day for Persons with Disabilities 2018, was marked on Monday, December 3, with the launch of a new, comprehensive report on persons with disabilities in Jamaica.
Held at the Jamaica Pegasus in St. Andrew, the “Situational Analysis of Persons with Disabilities” report spearheaded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) chapter in Jamaica, underscores that persons with disabilities are often overlooked and marginalised, and tend to face discrimination and social exclusion.
The report, led by Dr. Shakeisha Wilson-Scott of the University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI), states that “persons with disabilities (PWDs) are disproportionately represented among the poorest, unemployed, low waged and those with low health status and lower levels of educational achievement.”
The analysis, created to evaluate the current status of PWDs as of 2017, with a particular focus on children with special needs, will now form the basis of discussions with government stakeholders on the implementation of specific areas of the Disabilities Act, 2014 and areas for improvement in service provision.
“The Government must act with urgency to fully enforce the Disabilities Act, 2014. Once this is done, it is recommended that a follow-up study be conducted to better assess the relevance and effectiveness of the Act. It is also suggested that a situational analysis be done for children with disabilities who are 0 to 17 years of age,” the report concluded.
Unicef, the Digicel Foundation and Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) used the event to call for greater inclusion of children with disabilities as they also launched the “I am Able” media campaign to promote the empowerment and inclusion of these children.
The report and the campaign are main outcomes of a two-year partnership between the agencies which began in 2017.
Also speaking at the event was Minister of Labour and Social Security, Shahine Robinson who gave a commitment that the Government is dedicated to the implementation of the Disabilities Act.
By: Gavin Riley