BEHOLD! Evidence published in the just released Global Report on health inequalities, 2022 shows that many people with disabilities are still left behind in several spheres of life and sectors, not only in the economy but also in the societal development.
In analysis, different environmental barriers such as inaccessible education, transportation, employment, and health care, still hinder persons with disabilities from participating fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others.
In the same report, Dr Tedros AdhanomDirector-General, World Health Organization (WHO) comment that due to persistent health inequities, people with disabilities die earlier; they have poorer health and functioning, and they are more affected by health emergencies than the general population.
Further evidence shows that health facilities are six times as hindering, while transportation is fifteen times obstructing people with disabilities from accessing facilities.
This is a form of inequality as Dr Martin Luther King, Jr once said; “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
In fueling the pace for mainstreaming a disability-inclusive agenda as part of the commemoration of the disability day in 2022, with the theme “Transformative solutions for inclusive development – the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world”, stakeholders in Misungwi District, Mwanza region gathered at Mitindo Inclusive Primary School marking the first time to commemorate at district level.
In a related development, Sense International Tanzania through its three year (2022-2024)- ‘Disability Inclusive Development-Task Order 51 (DID-TO51)’ Project, funded by UKAID has made this to happen in collaboration with the District Council and the Organization of People with Disabilities (OPD) – APDM.
In the celebration, the event was full of people with disabilities themselves and district council inter-departmental officials, who were key with regards to the coordination of disability matters , to mention a few.
Here, participants had time to discuss the identification of school going age children living with disabilities by this December 2022 to January 2023, and the opportunity of accessing two percent of the disability loan through district internal sources.
During the celebration, people with disabilities (PWD) aired their views, especially the hardships they face in attempts to access to a-two per cent loan from the Misungwi District Council.
The hardship is mostly due to lack of financial education, especially on how to access and manage the loans, and in a way justifying their eligibility as well as how they are going to repay.
In the course, some opt and try to engage middle men, who in turn take the opportunity to charge them exorbitantly or remain with almost three quarters of the whole loan that would be released.
“For instance, when a person with a disability requests a loan of 5m/-, a middleman would demand 3m/- and leave him with only 2m/- without realizing that the person must pay back the whole 5m/- as the actual deb,” said the Secretary for the Assist People with Disabilities organization, Mr Malimi Luhanya
He added: “As results, we fail to pay back the loans; hence, we need financial education so that we can go for lending process by ourselves.”
In response, the area District Social Welfare Officer, Mr Philmon John, urged them to only engage their Community Development Officers, and not anyone , when processing such loan, saying: “In case the officer is not available in a certain Ward, then the borrowers should go to the District level.”
On his part, the Technical Lead-Disability Inclusion for Sense International, Tanzania, Mr Benjamin Kihwele, reiterated that the commemorations were for especially socialization purposes, and discussing various issues for the PWD, including knowing what they are aware of, especially on the two percent loan and its accessibility.”
In his analysis, out of 30 PWD who attended the celebration, it was only one person had the knowledge and could access the loan(s) with ease.
Mr Kihwele commented that “With the universal design principles, solutions must be inclusive right from the beginning of every aspect. This applies from policies to the implementation in practice. That’s why we need attention of every department, because disability matters are crosscutting, from institutions to the grassroots of the individuals.”
To achieve the transformative and innovative solutions for equitable world, commitment in collaboration is inevitable and it should be a norm in all spheres of social-economic and political life.
An accessible and equitable world requires that the peoples identify barriers to full and effective participation of people with disabilities.
It also requires that peoples work intentionally and urgently to foster political commitment, leadership, and governance, as well as engagement of communities and other stakeholders as a strategic entry point.
“Let us work together for an inclusive, accessible and equitable world that ensures participation of people with disabilities,” he stressed.
On his part, Misungwi District Council Chairperson, Mr Kashinje Machibya, commented that physical disability isn’t really a disability, but mid set disability that takes the major toll.
He, therefore, urged PWD to grab any economic opportunity that comes on their ways, including the -two percent loan, whose access has been well stipulated in Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) manifesto.
The manifesto directs that 10 per cent of the Council’s domestic income should be allocated to PWD in the form of two percent to women, four per cent to the youth and another four per cent as soft and free interest loans.
“Only people with disabilities can individually request the loans. Members, who are women and youth, must be groups and this is an opportunity for you.
“Another opportunity for you is the fact that the manifesto doesn’t prohibit a woman with disability to have access to a-four per cent loan in women groups” he told PWD.
Again, PWD, be it females or males can also have access to a-four loan per cent for the youth since the manifesto doesn’t specify gender eligibility.
“It is therefore your choice. The only challenge you will face is the fact that you must be in groups for a- four per cent loan access,” he said, adding that: “Unlike other groups, no age limit for a-two percent loan access.