No Child Left Behind: Study calls for better care of children with disabilities
New study advocates non-discriminating environment and responsive interventions
MANILA, 24 July 2018 – PhilHealth estimates that one out of seven or around 5.1 million Filipino children are living with disabilities. Yet there is little information on the prevalence of disabilities among Filipino children.
The Situation of Children with Disabilities in the Philippines study addresses this information gap and provides data that will support the development of responsive national programs and services for children with disabilities. Supported by the Australian Embassy, UNICEF, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the report underlined that children with disabilities continue to experience barriers to access basic social services. This is compounded by poverty, lack of data, weak governance and discriminatory attitudes related to disability in general.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely, DSWD Acting Secretary Virginia Orogo, and UNICEF Philippines OIC Representative Julia Rees attended the public presentation of the study.
“Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school, access medical services, or have their voices heard in society. Their disabilities also place them at a higher risk of physical abuse and discrimination, and often exclude them from receiving proper nutrition or humanitarian assistance in emergencies,” Rees said.
UNICEF is working with PhilHealth to develop benefit packages for children with disabilities in the Philippines. UNICEF is also helping establish three children with disability hubs in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Ambassador Gorely expressed support, “The Embassy is pleased to provide assistance to UNICEF and our Philippine Government partners for this important study that helps everyone understand the lives of children with disability and how we can improve their situation. Disability-inclusive development is a priority of Australia’s Foreign Policy, and underpins our engagement on human rights, development assistance and humanitarian action.”
The study, conducted by Development Academy of the Philippines, recommends putting in place a comprehensive service framework for children with disabilities and a strong referral system that integrates the different social services. Addressing financial barriers to social services is also important, as is enhancing the disability inclusiveness of health, education, social welfare and transportation services.
While the Philippines has taken significant steps and continues to address the issues of persons and children with disabilities through laws, community-based services, incentives and social cash transfers, more can be done to ensure their rights are fulfilled.
“Australia is proud to be one of the largest donors to the Philippines on social protection, and we are ready to assist through our existing partnerships with DSWD and UNICEF,” said Ambassador Gorely.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.