World Sight Day, and White Cane Day have been marked in Tamale with a call on the government to ensure that education and health facilities are accessible to blind people to enable them to enjoy such rights.
Community members, especially family members have also been urged to support blind people and avoid discriminating and using negative words on them.
Mr Mohammed Awal Sumani Bapio, Executive Director of the Centre for Active Learning and Integrated Development (CALID), a civil society organisation, who made the call, said blind people did not need sympathy but rather empathy as they were capable of attaining any height if the right structures and systems were put in place to support them.
CALID in collaboration with the Northern Regional branch of the Ghana Blind Union (GBU) on Saturday embarked on a float through some principal streets of Tamale and finally converged at the Jubilee Park to commemorate this year’s World Sight Day, and World White Cane Day, which were on the theme: “Love Your Eyes”.
World Sight Day, and White Cane Day are commemorated on October 14, and October 15 respectively to raise awareness about blindness and the importance of the white cane.
The event, was organised as part of the Anti-Stigma and Discrimination Against Blind (ASDAB) project under the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie programme being implemented by CALID in collaboration with GBU with funding support from UKaid.
The ASDAB project seeks to create a positive culture of support and care that allows blind persons including people with mental health conditions to access basic, equitable, and quality health care as well as promote the use of positive languages on persons with disability in the Northern Region.
Statistics show that there are about 350,000 blind people and or partially blind people in the country.
Mr Bapio called on government to prioritise early disbursement of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund to ensure that persons with disabilities received their share on time to support their livelihood activities.
Mr Bila Mohammed, Northern Regional President of GBU appealed to motorists to respect the white cane by observing road traffic regulations that protected those carrying the white cane to ensure their safety on the roads.
Mr Imoro Mohammed, Northern Regional Secretary of GBU said the lack of integrated senior high school and junior high school in the Northern Region was preventing many persons with visual impairment in the region from acquiring education.
Mr Mohammed said the situation had compelled many visually-impaired persons to travel outside the region to attain basic and secondary education, and a considerable number of them stopped school due to financial challenges.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to designate a senior high school and a junior high school in the region as integrated schools to ensure access to education for persons with visual impairment.
Alhaji Abdul Razak Saani, Northern Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education, who chaired the event, urged the citizenry to be supportive, generous, and cooperate with blind people for the benefit of all.
Representatives from the National Road Safety Authority, and the Department of Social Welfare also addressed the event and promised to lead campaigns to protect blind people and ensure their access to services including health.