I recall Dr Bheri Ramsaran in observing International Day of Persons with Disabilities last year, speaking of the need to promote awareness of disability issues as well as secure the fundamental rights for individuals with all forms of disabilities. His remarks highlighted the “investment in resources at the various levels” by his government, but I believe he failed – possibly because of a lack of awareness – to mention that the mentally challenged are demeaned by the law itself.
The National Commission on Disability appointed by the President and the Ministry of Legal Affairs can surely revise the wording of the law. Whether it is “mentally handicapped”, “mentally impaired” or “intellectual disability”, our lawmakers have several politically correct options to choose from.
On January 25, 2013, the Ministry of Health provided two plastic wheelchairs to the Periwinkle Cancer Club, a release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said. The handing over ceremony took place on Wednesday in the compound of the Ministry of Health on Brickdam in the presence of Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsarran. The wheelchair standard was formulated in an effort to improve the quality of wheelchair being produced and sold on the local and overseas market. It is expected that this standard would be utilized by health organizations and other related manufacturers, thereby promoting standardization for this particular commodity for the disabled. From the foregoing, it should be recognized that there is a great need for issues of occupational safety and health to be seriously addressed with these locally made wheelchairs. None here will dispute that safety and health-care are health issues.
Further, by law, the Ministry of Health is duty bound to provide standard wheelchairs to patients.