WHO hails Botswana on rehabilitation of disabled

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has praised Botswana’s efforts in the rehabilitation of disabled people, saying the country was committed to uplifting and improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Rehabilitation is a process aimed at enabling people with disabilities to reach and maintain their optimal physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological and social functional levels. It provides them with the tools they need to attain independence and self-determination.

WHO representative in Botswana, Dr Martins Ovberedjo said Botswana ranks very highly in rehabilitation of the disabled within the Southern Africa region.

Speaking at the Rehabilitation Pitso in Gaborone on Tuesday, Ovberedjo applauded Botswana for its efforts in omprehensively and exclusively addressing issues that affect people living with disabilities.

“In 2016, Botswana and the UN family signed and embraced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)as the basis of all future plans for this country up until the SDGs are realised. The overall pledge for the SDGs is ‘to leave no one behind’,” he said.

He added that last year, WHO launched ‘Rehabilitation 2030: Call for Action’ which came at the time when Botswana was planning to strengthen its rehabilitation services with WHO’s support. The strengthening of rehabilitation services is part of the Ministry of Health and Wellnesses’ priorities under the new National Development Plan 11.

For his part, the Ministry’s deputy permernant secretary, Hurana Jibril said Government was committed to socially uplifting Batswana including people with disabilities who are often left out of many development plans.

“The theme for this Pitso is ‘Moving Towards an Inclusive Rehabilitation Policy’ and this is where all the relevant sectors and service beneficiaries are involved in all the steps.

“With this theme my Ministry is acknowledging that rehabilitation is not the responsibility of the health sector alone but other sectors are equally important.”

“It therefore emphasises the need for Botswana to have rehabilitation programmes from different sectors that are well-coordinated and complement each other for maximum benefit and achievement of the intended outcomes,” he said.

Jibril said the Ministry was working on various areas of rehabilitation such as the   development of a Comprehensive National Rehabilitation Policy with technical support from WHO. He said the draft should be out before the end of 2017/18 followed by the development of a five-year Rehabilitation Strategic Plan. 

Government is also reviewing the Disability Certification guidelines, which are at an advanced stage and beneficiaries will be consulted at the start of the coming financial year.

The 1971 Mental Disorders’ Act is also being review and draft Mental Health Bill is due before legislators later this year.  The Bill envisages giving patients more active roles in their rehabilitation processes, among other considerations.

Jibril acknowledged that rehabilitation services had not been easily accessible to people with disabilities.

“I do acknowledge that inadequate access to rehabilitation services impacts negatively on the performance of other sectors hence the need to strengthen the services as a country,” he said.

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