About 10% of Lankans physically or mentally impaired; laws to be amended soon

The Protecting the Rights of People with Disabilities Act (No.28 of 1996) would be amended soon, said the Secretary to Ministry of Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Heritage Shirani Weerakoon.

This was revealed last Wednesday (11) at a multi-sectoral stakeholder meeting held at the Galle Face Hotel to discuss the ways and means of improving the accessibility to Assistive Technology by the persons with disabilities and elders in Sri Lanka.

Organised jointly by the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine and the WHO, the meeting saw the presence of both service providers and health care receivers who acknowledged the need to improve the country’s level of medical, social and administrative response towards clinical disabilities in people.

The Regional Adviser for Disability, Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation for the WHO Dr. Patanjali Nayar briefed the meeting on the attention given to differently abled individuals by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and led a discussion on what needed to be done within Sri Lanka to improve the access to assistive products and technology for disabled persons.

The Sri Lankan government’s policies towards disabled citizens, their treatment, rehabilitation and social stabilization were explained by the Director for Youth, Elderly and Disabled Persons Unit at Health Ministry Dr. Ananda Jayalal, who also revealed that about a 10% of the total population of Sri Lanka could be identified as physically or mentally impaired.

Addressing the meeting, the National Programme Manager for the Elderly and Disability Health Care unit of Ministry of Health Dr. Shiromi Maduwage said lack of awareness, availability, affordability and accessibility, the wrong use of assistive devices and violation of priority basis were the most common obstacles faced by disabled individuals in receiving proper treatment.

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