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Govt to set up register for people with disabilities

By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, March 23 2014

The People’s Partnership Government is moving to establish a national register of persons with disabilities, Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said yesterday.

Speaking at a conference to commemorate World Down’s syndrome Day at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain, Ramadharsingh observed that while there has been much progress, persons with disabilities, including those with Down’s syndrome, continue to face stigma, discrimination and exclusion.

He said the Government has made significant strides in adhering to the mandate outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“In particular, the Convention emphasises the importance of data collection on persons with disabilities, to inform meaningful planning and policy formulation. Thus, we are poised to establish the National Register of Persons with Disabilities,” Ramadharsingh told the audience, which included President Anthony Carmona.

Ramadharsingh said the register will ensure that the resources of the ministry are allocated for programmes targeting persons with disabilities in a much more precise way.

“Additionally, the data generated from the national register on persons with disabilities will further facilitate partnerships and knowledge transfers to other ministries and advocacy bodies like the Down’s syndrome Family Network,” he said.

Persons with Down’s syndrome, Ramadharsingh said, experience higher rates of poverty and deprivation and are twice as likely to lack health care.

He said the employment rates of persons with disabilities in some countries are as low as one-third of that of the overall population

The minister expressed hope that the register, when implemented, will facilitate the mainstreaming of disability sensitive programmes into all public services for citizens of Trinidad and Tobago in the areas of healthcare, education, sport, recreation, disaster emergency planning and community development.

President and founder of the Down’s syndrome Family Network Glen Niles, who is the father of a son with Down’s syndrome, told his audience that they must instil strength in their children.

“We need to help them progress and we need to instil in them that strength to do more,” he said.

World Down’s syndrome Day is observed annually on March 21. The theme of this year’s event was Health and Well-Being: Access And Equality For All.

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