ENTEBBE —President Yoweri Museveni has called for a nationwide campaign to eliminate road recklessness that is one of the leading causes of disability in Uganda.
The President was speaking during the national commemoration of the International Day of People with Disability at a virtual ceremony held at Entebbe, State House.
According to records from the Police’s Directorate of Traffic and Road safety records, at least 229 people perished in 1,407 road accidents recorded last September alone most of which emanated from reckless driving that also resulted in serious and minor injuries to 1,054 people.
President Yoweri Museveni directed the Ministry of Gender and the Ministry of Health to harmonise, investigate and identify the causes of disability during early human growth and ageing independently.
“Right from the beginning at NRM inception, the population has been able to grow but why doesn’t the numbers of People with disabilities reduce? 14.4℅ of the total national population of 43 million people, equivalent to about 6 million people is not a small number. Why doesn’t the number of PWDs reduce”, he asked.
The President said one leading factor for the cause of disability is due to road accidents, which he attributed to mere recklessness on the road.
He advised government and the relevant stakeholders to initiate a national campaign to eliminate recklessness on the roads and plan for avoiding early disability causes in schools through counseling.
He said disability, in the case of elderly people, is a natural phenomenon by ageing but should not be a cause of the accumulated numbers of cases of disability.
Mr. Museveni reaffirmed government’s commitment to continue supporting PWDs in the education sector by providing special needs in schools through production and support aids like wheel chairs, artificial kegs, give livelihood support to SACCOs and grants for income generating projects and have advocacy through councils in order to sensitize the people on supporting PWDs.
He was noted that the Ministry of Gender identifed some causes of disability including stunted growth as a lack of some hormones in the body among children, visual and hearing impairment that can be detected and is preventable especially at early growth period.
President Museveni said that since 1986 the NRM government has focused on mass immunisation against the killers disease in children, emphasizing that all the cases of disabilities should not increasing at all.
The Global theme of this year’s celebrations is “Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities toward an Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable post Covid-19 World.” and the adopted national theme is “Not All Disabilities Are Visible: A Call for a Stronger Post Covid-19 Agenda.”, which was purposefully selected to draw attention to the many invisible disabilities like physical, mental disabilities, cerebral, epilepsy among others.
The Minister of Gender, Labour and social Development Betty Amongi commended government for being able to host the event since 1992 saying that the recognition of people with PWDs raises awareness about matters that affect them at national level.
The Minister of State for Disability Hon. Asamo Hellen government and President Museveni for his commitment to uplift the status of the PWDs, which she said should not be taken for granted. She called for increased economic empowerment of PWDs by government.
Daniel Alemu, the UNFPA Deputy Representative speaking on behalf of Development partners commended government for its steadfast commitment to inclusive development to persons with disability that demonstrates committed leadership.
Yona Waswa, the Chairperson of National Council for people with disabilities noted that government has increased support to PWDs by incorporating them on different political representation, economic empowerment.
“Uganda is the first country to appoint PWDs at key positions, put in place government supported institutions for PWDs benefit”, he said.
During the celebrations, Daniel Eraju a visual impaired and former student of Iganga SS testifies that ‘disability is not inability’. He said that being blind did not hinder him from pursuing his studies up A’level, scoring triple AAA in history, Literature, history and a distinction General paper respectively getting all the 20 points.
The President of the United Nations General Assembly H.E Mr. Abdulla Shahid said the day is aimed at increasing awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities and promote their rights.
“It reminds us that persons with disabilities must be part of any decision-making process around COVID-19, around the achievement of sustainable development goals, or around any other issue relevant to our societies,” he said.