By Asmau Ahmad
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission have called on Member States to ensure the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities across all sectors and to create an enabling environment for them.
Dr Fatima Jagne, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS Commission made this known on Wednesday in Abuja during the opening of the three-day regional meeting of Disability Experts in West-Africa.
The Expert Meeting was aimed at to validating the Study Report from the Regional Disability Inclusion research initiated by the ECOWAS Commission.
Jagne said that findings from the study of the experts will serve would be recommended to Member States to mainstream into national documents to address the challenges of Persons with Disabilities.
“It is known that, when persons with disabilities access health care, they often experience stigma and discrimination, and sometimes receive poor quality services because of the stigma and misconceptions.
“There is an urgent need to scale up disability inclusion in all levels of the social systems- education, health, employment, recreation/sports, and others.
“To reiterate the call for action from António Guterres, the Secretary-General, United Nations, all countries are urged to fully implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Increase accessibility, and dismantle legal, social, economic and other barriers with the active involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.
“The multidimensional and multi-layered nature of disability demands collective responsibility and accountability, within this context.
“The Commission therefore calls upon all Member States government ministries, agencies, oversight institutions, and our development partners.
“To work together to move the recommendations from this report to the “reality” to make a positive difference in the lives of persons with disabilities and their families.
“ECOWAS recommends the development of a regional framework for protection of persons with disability in ECOWAS region; awareness-creation and sensitization on international and regional legal/policy frameworks.
“Protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and disability inclusion to be mainstreamed into development planning in the ECOWAS region,” Jagne said.
Mr James Lalu, Executive Secretary National Commission for Person’s with Disability called for removal of barriers hindering the inclusion of persons with disability in the scheme of things.
Lalu who was represented by his Technical Assistant, Yusuf Iyodo said that Person’s with Disabilities are faced with various social challenges including marginalisation in employments as well as discrimination by the society.
Lalu said that once the recommendations are implemented, Person’s with Disabilities in the Sub- region would now have a voice.
About 50 experts are participating in the meeting from government institutions, national associations of persons with disabilities, development partners and ECOWAS Institutions.