The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has commenced consultations to review the National Policy on Disability with a view of incorporating new strategies to reduce vulnerability among Persons with Disabilities.
The process being conducted with key stakeholders at regional level also seeks to devise new ways of ensuring that the inclusion of PWDs in the national development agenda is strengthened.
Speaking at the consultative meeting for Western region at Igongo Cultural Center in Mbarara on Wednesday, the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze noted that the current policy was instituted in 2006 and issues concerning disability in the development arena have since evolved.
“Once we reduce vulnerability and promote inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, we will be able to enhance equal opportunities for empowerment, participation and protection of rights of Persons with Disabilities irrespective of gender, age and disability category.” He said.
“This is in recognition of the fact that Persons with Disabilities can perform to their full potential when availed equal opportunities,” he added.
He revealed that the new policy will inform the planning process, resource mobilization and allocation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of activities with respect to Persons with Disabilities’ concerns at all levels and by all actors.
According to a study done by the Uganda Bureau of Statistic in 2016, the disability prevalence rate was 12.4%. Of these, 49.26% were males and 50.74% were females. The census estimated that the highest forms of disability were: difficulty seeing 6.5%, difficulty remembering 5.4%; difficulty walking 4.5%; and difficulty hearing 3.1%.
The Minister observed that 12.4% of a given population is a large number of persons that need to be supported and adequately planned for to eliminate exclusion.
The participants appealed to the Ministry to come up with a clear definition of disability so that services get to the intended beneficiaries.
The acting Commissioner Disability and Elderly Affairs, Mrs. Emily Ajiambo said there is a new Persons with Disabilities Act, 2020, which was enacted early this year and provides legal guidance on matters concerning PWDs, including a definition and a schedule on categorization of disabilities.
She however revealed that the regulations to operationalize the Act are still under development and will be disseminated upon completion and approval.
Emily revealed that alongside the ongoing review process, stakeholders would also be consulted on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa.
Uganda being a member state of the African Union is obliged to ratify the protocol. Part of the processes involved in the ratification is consultation with stakeholders on the provisions in the protocol to provide feedback before ratification.