The Federal Government on Tuesday said it would speed up the process to facilitate the provision of Assistive Technologies (AT) for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) for their improved healthy lifestyles.
Hijia Sadiiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said this in a keynote address at the Validation Meeting on the National RoadMap on Local Production of AT for PWDs in Abuja.
The minister, who was represented by Alhaji Bashir Alkali, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, noted that AT would assist PWDs attain the required 3.8 target of the Sustainable Development Goals on Universal Health Coverage.
Accordingnto her, Nigeria being a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of PWDs (UNCRPD), commits member states to ensure that PWDs have access to affordable assistive technology and mobility aids.
“The importance of AT in the life of PWDs cannot be overemphasised as it enables them to live healthy, productive, independent and dignified lives.
“However, it is sad to say that most people who really need these technologies find it very difficult to access them because they are not readily available and if when available are also expensive.
“The government, all and sundry must therefore be committed to making these devices available and affordable to those who need them.
“So that through the use of the AT, barriers are removed, thereby enhancing their physical and mental capabilities which will in turn lead to greatly improved quality of life,” Farouq said.
She said it was on such basis that the stakeholders’ validation meeting was convened as a critical step to the development of a national roadmap on local production of AT for PWDs.
Farouq noted that the roadmap was designed to provide guidance for production, procurement and distribution of AT in Nigeria.
He added that “it is also to ensure quality control in local production of AT for PWDs in Nigeria, help in providing enabling environment for employment creation among other objectives.
“The draft roadmap captures both the global and Nigerian context of AT, it x-rayed the current situation of PWDs in Nigeria,” Farouq said.
Similarly, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu commended Farouq and her team for the significant roles they were playing in the lives of PWDs in the country.
Adamu was represented by Mr Aisuedion Abel, an Assistant Director on Special Needs Education in the the Ministry of Education.He urged the participants to be diligent and thorough with their final output so that the government would have a roadmap to be proud of.
Speaking, Mrs Nkechi Onwukwe, the Director, Special Needs Department in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, said the meeting was a demonstration of the federal government’s commitment to ensure PWDs were empowered, independent and their welfare needs addressed.
Onwukwe, who represented the Permanent Secretary, said the ministry has had a stakeholders’ consultative Forum and on-the-spot assessment, visited 36 states and the FCT to identify local producers of AT and what the government could do to support them.
Meanwhile, the Principal Consultant, Mr Rilwan Abarshi, commended the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs’ efforts , adding that the roadmap would provide opportunities for employment and job creation in the country.
“As a consultant, we are happy to bring people here to brainstorm on how we can make PWDs have a meaningful, purposeful and improved lives with high level of independence and easy mobility’.(NAN)