PWDs in ZamPen reiterate call for inclusivity, accessibility

ZAMBOANGA CITY, July 22 (PIA) – As the country is observing National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week (NDPR) from July 17-23, the local persons with disability (PWD) sector in the region is calling for government agencies and stakeholders to heed their call for inclusivity and accessibility especially during the pandemic.

Teddy Kahil, President of the Regional PWD Federation said “PWDs are highly affected by the pandemic”. For example, he cites that blind masseurs’ income are affected due to the quarantine restrictions. Hence, he said government must help ease their burden by providing appropriate skills training and livelihood opportunities for affected PWDs.

Meanwhile, the observance is calling the different sectors to address the needs of PWDs for food, medicines and assistive devices especially those who are marginalized. Positive responses from different LGUs have come out reiterating the privileges of PWDs on the accessibility of benefits and services are the same with abled-persons.

The Department of Health-IX (DOH-IX) maintains its drive to support on disabilities prevention by giving out free vaccines for children and adolescents and has been encouraging PWDs to inform or write to their respective health offices in their provinces if they need assistive devices.

“If you are a PWD and you need assistive devices like wheelchairs, crutches and walkers, let us know and we will help you avail. You can get in touch with your city or municipal health offices”, said by Dr. Rolando Bucoy, Medical Officer IV of DOH-IX during the Kapihan na Zamboanga Virtual Briefing.

Meanwhile, DOH-Regional Office will prioritize giving assistive devices to those that need it urgently, since supplies are very limited. In spite of it, the agency remains positive that all PWDs in the region can be catered by their services.

With regards of their health services, Philippine Health Insurance Cooperation-IX (PhilHealth-IX) assured that under Republic Act 11228 “the government will subsidize the PhilHealth premium contributions of more than 100,000 PWDs when the list is completely validated, hopefully within this year”, Maria Venus Giron, Chief Social Insurance Officer of PhilHealth-IX said.

Moreover, PhilHealth also appealed PWDs should be registered in Philippine Registry of Persons with Disabilities (PRPWD).

PWDs premium contributions shall be 100% paid and those in the formal economy will have affiliated benefits where 50% will be shouldered by the national government.

On the other hand, the Commission on Population and Development-IX (POPCOM-IX) emphasized that PWDs’ reproductive health must also be addressed as there is no difference with regards to the services afforded. “PWDs are not treated differently and can really avail reproductive health services the same with abled-persons,” said Regional Director Reynaldo Wong.

Meanwhile, PWDs may access LGUs and government programs via referrals and coordination so that they can locate PWDs in the grassroots to be prioritized on the governments AYUDA especially in this present situation.

“PWDs safest way is to tap their barangay officials as they were classified as one of the vulnerable sectors especially during this pandemic,” Kahil adds.

Kahil also stated that access of information is very important to PWDs wherein he appealed to the media community “to provide sign language inset on televised news reports in local media and be more ‘descriptive’ to give the blind a more illustrated description of the news reports”.

A proposed ordinance by Kahil has been already submitted to one of the city councilors as he is hopeful this ordinance will be passed soon.

This year, the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week will culminate tomorrow (July 23), the birthday of Apolinario Mabini. (JRA/PIA-Zamboanga City/Photo courtesy of National Council on Disability Affairs)

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