Policies and Programmes for Disabled People in the Commonwealth

Policies and Programmes for Disabled People in the Commonwealth

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J. K. Thompson
01 Jan 1982
9781848593466 (PDF)
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  • Introduction

    The International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP), 1981, was proclaimed by resolution 31/123 adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 16 December 1976, and was celebrated throughout the world with the theme “Full participation and equality”. The Year had as its main objectives: “promoting all national and international efforts to provide disabled persons with proper assistance, training, care, and guidance to make available opportunities for suitable work and to ensure their full integration in society”.

  • Setting the Scene

    The assumption of the International Year was that one person in ten throughout the world suffered from some degree of disability. This assumption was based on a 1968 estimate by Rehabilitation International that the number of disabled people in the world was 450 million, increasing by some 3 million annually. While it is not possible to verify this figure, it is significant that it was not seriously challenged during the Year.

  • Iydp Activities in Commonwealth Countries

    Almost every national IYDP committee put public awareness of the existence and needs of disabled people at the head of its list of objectives. Presidential or ministerial statements opened the Year's proceedings. The press, radio and television were used to publicise the purposes of the Year and to present features about the achievements of disabled people as well as their needs.

  • Some Principal Causes of Disablement

    IYDP committees concerned themselves mostly with people in the community who are already disabled and with preventing road and industrial accidents, rather than with action to reduce the number of avoidable disabilities in the next generation. Government health programmes, on the other hand, are giving increased attention to this aspect.

  • Primary Prevention of Disablement

    In the words of the WHO Expert Committee on Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (February 1981), “No other single factor can contribute as much to diminishing the impact of disability as first-level prevention. Attempts to cure, restore or rehabiliate rarely give totally satisfactory results…. First level prevention should be the overriding priority for all national health authorities and for WHO”.

  • Government Policies for the Disabled

    The United Nations slogan “full participation and equality” accentuated the strong swing away from care in institutions to independent living in the family and in the community generally. Ministries of health and of social welfare, in large countries and small, insisted that resources were being diverted from the creation of new “disease palaces” (large hospitals in main centres of population) to primary health care nationwide; and from “dumping grounds” (residential homes for the disabled) to rehabilitation centres - better still to rehabilitation techniques at village level - with the objective of restoring mobility and sufficient well-being to enable disabled people to come and go in society on an equal basis with everybody else.

  • Notes on Some Significant Developments

    At this stage of the report, the consultant is in a dilemma. What reference should be made to individual countries? The opinions expressed and the conclusions reached in the preceding chapters are based on the perusal of voluminous details sent in by IYDP committees, together with notes and recollections of discussions in some 20 countries of different sizes and in very different stages of development. The material is available, indexed by subject and by country.

  • The Main Conclusions

    The four major conclusions of this survey are now beginning to emerge. The first is that much of the paraphernalia of the relatively new science and practice of rehabilitation to be seen in industrialised countries is a long way out of the reach of smaller and more remote Commonwealth countries. Somehow, a means must be found to adapt these modern sophisticated technologies to the needs of disabled children and adults in the less developed countries - and not just in their urban areas.

  • Implementation of Recommendations

    The implementation of these recommendations will require action at national, regional and Commonwealth Secretariat levels. In many aspects of the subject, the three are interdependent, so they will be dealt with together.

  • Sources of Assistance

    The Commonwealth Foundation has published three valuable Directories of Aid Agencies,one for the Caribbean (1978), one for Africa (1979) and one for Asia and the South Pacific (1981). They are comprehensive and detailed lists of international, Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth sources of aid and include many which are concerned with work among disabled people.

  • Appendices
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