Awareness Week Is Good, But Not Enough, Advocate Says
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 5, 2003
WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA--The 1991 national census showed that there are more than 40,000 people with disabilities in Namibia. Eighty percent of those live in rural areas, far away from health and other services. Those living in cities have few choices because of a shortage of professionals able to perform such services.
On Monday, the Health Ministry launched the National Awareness Week on Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation. Health officials said the effort is aimed at making communities aware of the services and strategies that are in place to prevent disabilities and rehabilitate those who have them. While officials say that some disabilities are the result of poor pre-natal care, they also note that many are the result of vehicle accidents and injuries from violence in the home and workplace.
But Gerson Mutendere, Secretary-General of the National Federation of People With Disabilities (NFWPD), said it's not enough to let people know about professional services and efforts to prevent disabilities.
"The biggest enemy in society is a poor attitude . . . enhanced by ignorance," Mutendere told The Namibian news.
Mutendere, who has a disability related to a 1989 auto accident, lobbies to improve the lives of people with disabilities and integrate them into society at large.
"Society creates barriers for you [as a disabled person]," said Mutendere. "All of us can be confronted with a disability one day."