Community Development Education Health

Improve access to education, health, and social protection for children with disabilities

Dr. John Mangwiro, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care

Stakeholders have been urged to work towards improving the access to education, health, and social protection for children with severe disabilities.

Dr. John Mangwiro, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care made the call in Harare yesterday while addressing a stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting organised by the Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children Association (ZPHCA).

“As stakeholders, we should work towards improving the access to education, health, and social protection for children with disabilities.I hope that our discussion today will help us to think not only on what we are doing but also how we are doing it so that in the end we deliver the results that reflect a positive move towards inclusion of children with disabilities in Zimbabwe,” Dr. Mangwiro said.

He urged the Government, and the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Disability sector to reflect on how they can capitalize on their different perspectives and mandates to accelerate and contribute when acts and other pieces of legislation is being aligned with the constitution that should be inclusive of the needs of children with disabilities in Zimbabwe.

Alice Muhera, the mother of a 10-year-old boy with cerebral pulse, revealed the challenges that she faces in getting her child access to education.

Alice Muhera holding a child with cerebral pulse

“I can’t enrol my child in a local school because there are no institutions with suitable facilities for my child. He needs a special wheelchair and on top of that I can’t afford to send him to the schools that have the necessary infrastructure because they are expensive,” Muhera said.

Theresa Makwara, the National Coordinator of the ZPHCA said life has become difficult for parents of children with disabilities since COVID-19 disrupted the social and economic lives of many people.

“COVID-19 resulted in a loss of jobs for many people including parents of children with disabilities. As a result, we are failing to buy necessities for our children including food, medication and access to education. On the social front, many mothers of children with disabilities are being divorced by their spouses owing to disputes arousing out of the economic challenges among families,” Makwara said.

Mrs. R. Chakaamba, a social welfare worker with the Ministry of Public Services, Labour and Social Welfare said the ministry has a  Department of Disability Affairs that is the lead Government department responsible for the implementation of the Disabled Persons Act, ( Chapter 17.01).

The Children’s Act Chapter (5.06) is also administered by the Social Welfare Ministry under the Social Development Department. The Department of Disability affairs ensures the protection of all persons with disabilities including children with disabilities from all forms of abuse and exploitation. —

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende