Dr Augustina Naami, a lecturer at the University of Ghana, says Persons With Disability (PWDs) in Ghana need targeted social intervention programmes to address their specific socioeconomic and psychological needs.
PWDs, especially those who use wheelchairs and or walking aids, she said, were faced with plethora of challenges in their daily lives that impacted negatively on their physical and psychological wellbeing.
Speaking with the Ghana News Agency in an interview on issues affecting persons with mobility difficulties in their daily lives, Dr Naami, said though Ghana was making efforts, its social intervention schemes were not specific enough.
“The paths leading to houses of people who use wheelchair are rough, not tarred, there are muds on the road, which they find it difficult to come out on their own and carry out their activities,” she said.
Many people with disability in the country are self-employed in seasonal jobs like petty trading, shoemaking or tailoring and their work is not sustainable, while several others beg on the streets for their daily bread.
Therefore, they do not generate regular income or have job benefits such as Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) or access to National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and others.
Dr Naami, who is a wheelchair user said, apart from the District Assemblies’ Common Fund that targets people with disability, “There is no other social protection programme in the country that targets people with disability.”
She stated that disability related expenses were very high, and “majority of families do not pay attention to people with disability or support them, even if they need money to support themselves.”
Some families have money but would not help their PWDs due to several factors and the PWDs only have their wives or husbands paying attention to them, she added.
According her, PWDs are affected psychologically anytime their wheelchairs were not in stable condition, and when that happened, “they can’t help in community and nation building.”
“They depend on people for their work and when they do that, they think they have lost their dignity, independence, liberty, and power for them to make their own decisions,” she said.
Dr Naami, therefore called on Ghanaians to support the “1000 Wheelchairs and Walking Aids campaign” spearheaded by the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, which aims at mobilizing, at least 16,000 mobility devices nationwide.
She described the initiative as an intervention that would help people with disability challenges to get out their current precarious conditions and take charge of their lives and dignity.
“The wheelchair is a necessity to help them engage in doing things that will improve their livelihoods, and take care of the others,” she said.
She added, “And apart from providing wheelchairs for the people, Ghanaians should change their attitude towards people with disability and include them in decision making and things that will help them.”
Commenting on the campaign, Dr Otiko Afisah Djaba, Executive Director of Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, said a wheelchair float March had been organized where more than 300 persons with mobility challenges and other persons participated.
She said the campaign was not a one-time event but a process to be carried out until the last person, being it a child or an adult, got access to a wheelchair or walking aid.
“When you leave the physically challenged and the disabled without wheelchairs, then you are not serious about building your nation,” she stated.
“We don’t want to see people in Ghana crawling on their stomach, buttocks or hands on the floor, it is undignified.”
Dr Djaba also commended individuals and organisations for supporting the campaign with brand new wheelchairs and pairs of crutches, including; some for children with mobility challenges, at the launch on November 3, 2020.
She appealed for more support to help reach out many people across the country who urgently needed mobility devices to go about their daily activities.