Ghanaians should accept persons with disabilities

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Social Ghana Somubi
Ghana Somubi

Mrs Cecilia Senoo, Executive Director of Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), has called on Ghanaians to accept ad support Persons Living With Disabilities (PWD).

She said this was important to do away with stigma and discrimination in society and embrace them.

Mrs Senoo made the call at a stakeholders meeting to discuss and develop a positive language to address PWDs, including mental health in Accra.

She said many people had some form of disability so it was wrong for the public to make PWDs feel less of a human.

“So we need to accept and partner them at all levels and ensure that their rights are respected in society,” she said.

According to the Executive Director, although laws such as the Disability Act and the Mental Health Act, had been enacted to promote disability inclusion in Ghana, there were still challenges that they faced.

She said some PWDs always had difficulties in accessing services and facilities such as education, funding and information.

“They also face stigma and discrimination which hugely impact on their ability to reach their full potential,” she stated.

Mrs Senoo said it was for these reasons that the HFFG and the Psykforum with funding from UKaid through the “Ghana Somubi Dwumadie Programme” were implementing the Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) to hasten their inclusion.

The three-year project seeks to reduce stigma and discrimination to enhance mental health and disability inclusion (Ghana Participatory SBC).

The project is being implemented in four regions: Greater Accra, Central, Savanna and North-East.

The Executive Director said the aim of the meeting however, was to support the development of positive language which could be used to engage the public towards the reduction in negative and discriminatory attitudes, behaviours and norms faced by people with disabilities in Ghana, including people with mental health issues.

Mrs Senoo asked the public to be mindful of derogatory words normally used to describe PWDs, saying those words were more dehumanizing when expressed in local languages such as Ga.

She said the meeting was therefore expected to help create a positive culture of support to allow people with disabilities, including people with mental health conditions, to reach their full potential.

According to Mrs Senoo, there was the need for an increased use of positive disability and mental health language in Ghana for an improved enforcement of Disability and Mental health policies and laws by duty bearers.

“Promoting stronger policies and systems that respect the rights of people with disabilities, including people with mental health issues as well as scaling up high quality and accessible mental health services has become very necessary,” she added.

Dr Amankwa Arthur, the Acting Head, Health Promotion at the Mental Health Authority, said it was no fault of persons with mental conditions or some form of disability and that it was wrong for people to describe them by their conditions.

He said it was appropriate to refer to someone with mental health condition as a ‘person with mental illness’ rather than the ‘mad man’.

Dr Arthur said the media was also guilty of that and urged them to be wary of using such derogatory language against PWDs.

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