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See the child - before the disabiltiy, UNICEF says

Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 28 June 2013 – Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report.
Concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities would create benefits for society as a whole, says the report whose theme is Children with disabilties.

“While children with disabilities confront additional challenges as a result of their impairments, they have the potential to lead fulfilling lives and contribute meaningfully to society if given the opportunity to flourish, said UNICEF Representative, Baba Danbappa.

Speaking at the PNG Consultation on the National Disability Policy where this report was launched on Friday, Mr. Danpabba echoed sentiments expressed by UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake and called for more efforts to support integration of children with disabilities to help tackle the discrimination that pushes them further into the margins of society.

For many children with disabilities, exclusion begins in the first days of life with their birth going unregistered. Lacking official recognition, they are cut off from the social services and legal protections that are crucial to their survival and prospects. Their marginalization only increases with discrimination.

UNICEF is supporting government efforts to address disability through early childhood education.

“Early detection of disability is an important part of early childhood education. The earlier a disability is detected in a child, the more effective the intervention and the less severe the disability. With UNICEF support, 17 special education resource centers in the country have trained staff to address early intervention on special learning needs of children,” Mr Danbappa explained.

These staff are trained to perform ear and eye screening in schools and to make referrals as required. They are also trained to practice care, and provide safety and protection for children particularly vulnerable due to disability.
Secretary for the Department for Community Development, Anna Solomon, called for a change of values and understandings with respect to those living with disability.

“People living with disabilities are people first and like everyone else, they deserve the same set of rights as every citizen of this country. Our national policy on disability emphasises the principles of protection of human rights, inclusiveness, barrier free and partnerships and these must be respected, Ms. Solomon said.

She added that the launch of the UNICEF State of the World’s Report on Children with Disabilities was timely as one of the objectives of the national policy which was being reviewed was not only to improve the lives of children with disability but to also accept the roles and responsibilities of caring for them.

There is little accurate data on the number of children with disabilities, what disabilities these children have and how disabilities affect their lives. As a result, few governments have a dependable guide for allocating resources to support and assist children with disabilities and their families.

The report urges governments to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support families so that they can meet the higher costs of caring for children with disabilities.

It calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision-makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care. It also emphasizes the importance of involving children and adolescents with disabilities by consulting them on the design and evaluation of programmes and services for them.



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