Over many years in the Solomon Islands there has been much talk about help for people with disabilities and I. for, one have most often raised concerns and helped with aids, via my partner charity and a local donor organization. with crutches (300 most recently), wheel chairs, walking frames and 6 months ago, given a modular building to the NRH for use as replacement Rehabilitation Workshop for the manufacture and custom fitting of artificial limbs for patients who have lost a leg through surgery as a consequence of having succumbed to diabetes.
The modular building handed over to the NRH last September has still not been brought into use.
I have also, repeatedly, called on the appropriate authorities to provide for access to buildings, offices, banks and shops for those confined to using wheel chairs. All such requests have gone unanswered.
Only a month or so ago, I raised a concern for the need for an access point, to allow a wheel chair bound double amputee to be able to cross the Honiara main road in safety while using his wheel chair, nothing came of the request I have been told.
Today, I read in a piece in the Island Sun newspaper a piece by a member of the community raising the same kind of issues over accessibility for disabled people in the local quarantine centres.
Quoting the article, it read.
The Government has not prioritised facilities for People Living with Disability (PLWD) in the quarantine centres during the coronavirus pandemic.
These include pathways for people on wheel chairs and rest rooms facilities for them to access.
Unlike most quarantine centres in Honiara, only the bottom floors are accessible to them but not the top floors because of any lifts and pathways.
A member of People With Disability Solomon Islands (PWDSI), Naomi Tai said the Government response to people like them is not a priority and inclusive despite a policy in place for them.
She said most infrastructures in Honiara have no disability accessible.
“If there is a covid-19 outbreak and some of them test positive, where will they be quarantined?
“This is something the government needs to look at when selecting quarantine centres,” she said.
The Special Secretary to Prime Minister, Dr Jimmy Rodgers told a public forum at National Museum and Auditorium yesterday that the government prioritised people living with disability.
Dr Rodgers said the field hospital at the Multipurpose hall caters for people living with disabilities.
About 163 people living with disability are living in Honiara.
Fifty are under the Solomon Islands Deaf Association, 33 under the Blind Association of Solomon Islands and 80 in Physical Impairment.
A study carried out by Save the Children Fund (SCF) Australia and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in 1991-92 found that there were approximately 10,000 people with disabilities in the Solomon Islands.
However, the number should have increased now as the country’s population surpasses 700,000.
According to a review report, past and present governments have come up with policies to recognize people living with disability in social, education and all sectors of the society.
The Government signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in September 2008; its optional protocol in September 2009.
The then National Coalition for Rural Advancement (NCRA) Government reviewed the Solomon Islands National Disability Policy 2005-20101.
This Policy is now known as the Solomon Islands National Policy on Disability Inclusive Development Policy.
However, Cabinet is still to endorse the policy to allow the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to allocate a budget for disability programmes in the country.
Further to that, the Government has developed an Inclusive Education Policy to recognise people with disability in the education system.
The Government has also presented its initial, second and third report to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee in 2014.
The Family Protection Act was passed by Parliament in 2014, which recognises PLWD as well.
The current Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) came into power in December 2014 and has prioritised disability in its policy.
Consequently, however, the Government has not reviewed and endorsed the Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Bill 2006.
End of quote.