President emphasizes need for extending benefits of modern day technology to support persons with disabilities

PESHAWAR:President Dr Arif Alvi here Monday emphasized the need for adopting all possible measures to extend benefits of the modern day technology to support persons with disabilities and those affected by the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases and aging factors.

Addressing an interactive session with persons having disabilities held in coordination with World Health Organization (WHO) here at Governor House, the President said the assistive technology was drawing commitment at global, regional and members state level, which was a sign that the world was changing for the betterment and there was a hope for those in need of assistive products.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan and Chief Minister KP aide on Information and Higher Education, Kamran Bangash were also present.

The President said Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Rights of Persons with Disability 2020 was envisaged as an instrument for inclusive development and was a benchmark to ensure an easy access for persons with disabilities on equal basis with others. He said at present, “we are living in difficult times because COVID-19 pandemic had affected every sector of life”.

Appreciating the consistent support being provided by the WHO for health and well-being of people of Pakistan, the President said that Government was fully committed to ensure that people with disabilities in all their diversity were meaningfully participating at all levels of the society.

Dr Arif Alvi said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a powerful framework in mainstreaming disability inclusion across its dimensions. The President said social protection programmes have a great potential to play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and promoting effective access to healthcare, rehabilitation and other services, thus nurturing social inclusion and participation.

The President said the government was focusing on technical, vocational and skill based education to financially empower persons with disabilities and take full advantage of their potentials.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan has already announced Rs2000 per month stipend for a person with disability. He said “in our country there was about two million persons with different kinds of disabilities out of which about 3,30,000 were registered with NADRA”. He said data of unregistered persons with disabilities was being prepared under Ehsas Survey to provide loans on easy terms of conditions to them.

He said Higher Education Commission was preparing a policy under which fees of such students reading in post graduation classes would be waived off, adding over Rs50,000 scholarship was already placed for assistance of such students besides making banks accessible for them.

According to WHO, over one billion people were estimated to live with some form of disability. This corresponds to about 15% of the world’s population, with up to 190 million (3.8pc) people aged 15 years and older having significant difficulties in functioning, often requiring needed healthcare services. The number of people with disability was dramatically increasing in world due to demographic trends and increases of chronic health conditions besides others cases.

Earlier, the President was told that Pakistan has become the first country in the world to develop a cost effective package for essential health services (EPHS) as a part of universal health coverage whilst adopting global best practices. This EPHS integrates interventions for rehabilitation package of services at five levels of the health service delivery sector especially for persons with disabilities to bring them into mainstream of the society.

The President was further told that Pakistan has recently completed a survey on Rapid Assistive Technology Assessment (RATA) Survey which was undertaken by Health Services Academy, Ministry of National Health Services Regulations in collaboration with WHO.

The President was also briefed about various disability related laws and regulations enforced in Pakistan including disabled persons Employment and Rehabilitation Ordinance 1981), Zakat and Ushr Ordinance 1980, Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control Ordinance 1961, Charitable Endowment Act 1890 (VI) as adopted by the Government of Pakistan and Convention of the Rights of Children.

The President was further briefed about working of different organizations including National Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, Provincial Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons in each province, 12 disability related training institutes and 257 disability related public and private organizations and facilities.