Nairobi , 21st July, (PSCU) -First Lady Margaret Kenyatta wants disability given higher priority in policy and legislation to ensure physically challenged people can easily access critical facilities including hospitals, schools and restaurants.
She said there should be adequate legislation and policy guidelines that enforce compliance to friendly structures and facilities for elderly people and those on wheelchairs and other mobility appliances.
“We must enforce guidelines, existing standards and legislation and adopt attitudes to the benefit of all people of all ages, no matter their status in life”, said the First Lady who has a background in Architecture.
She spoke at the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya Headquarters, Nairobi, today, when she launched the APDK’s Strategic Plan, 2017-2020.
She was joined at the launch by APDK patron and former Vice President Moody Awori and the Association’s National Chairman and National Director Messrs Fred Owako and Gedion Muga respectively.
The Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection was represented by Mr Mwangi Chege .
The First Lady said the many restrictions in the building and road construction environment makes it difficult for disabled persons to access, participate and enjoy vital services.
“We must no longer tolerate multiple barriers that make it difficult or impossible for persons with disability to function and access services” , said the First Lady.
She said there are just too many restrictions imposed on people suffering disability, which is unacceptable.
“The physical restrictions of access have been imposed on people with impairments. Today, we all must refuse to repeat the rhetoric of inclusiveness and widening participation”, she added.
The First Lady underlined the need for Kenyans to audit themselves in their homes, schools, hospitals, work places and public areas for non-compliance with a friendly environment for the disabled.
She however said policy and legislation alone will not solve the discrimination that physically disabled people face every day.
There is need for a change of attitude and behavior among individual Kenyans.
“What we are doing as individuals is not enough. We need to do better”, she said
The First Lady abhorred the continued discrimination and intolerance that people with disability continue to face from the society.
“Unfortunately there are still aspects of intolerance and discrimination to persons living with disability. We still demonstrate intolerance of their mental and physical impairments”, she said.
Globally, added the First Lady, people living with disability are among the most marginalized, least empowered and disadvantaged social groups.
“They are at higher risk of experiencing poverty than any other social groups”, she noted.
The First Lady applauded the APDK for their dedication, energy, commitment and investment towards improving the quality of lives of people with disability.
“I believe that the Strategic Plan we launch today is a critical tool for tracking milestones, challenges and opportunities in the race to an inclusive nation”, she said
The First Lady also congratulated the APDK for its growth and leadership since its establishment 59 years ago.
Mr. Awori asked for a tax waiver on all equipment and items needed to assemble mobility appliances.
He said this will enable APDK to assemble adequate appliances to meet local demand and safe those forced to import them from abroad.
The APDK aims at enabling people with disability to overcome their physical limitations and empower them socially and economically to become self reliant and fully integrated members of their respective communities.
The institution’s key functions include providing education, advocacy, training , care giving services rehabilitation and innovative production of mobility appliances for persons with disability.
The institution falls under the Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection but partners closely with the Ministries of Health, Education and Treasury.
The Association operates 10 branches and 27 clinic sites across the country.