Nairobi/Dar es Salaam (ICRC) The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcomes the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Tanzania and the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled.
Tanzania has a population of 43 million, 3.4 million of whom are disabled. Deprived of educational opportunities in childhood and as adults unable to take part in socio-economic activities, disabled Tanzanians are often among the poorest people in the country. Access to health care and physical rehabilitation services, particularly for those living in rural areas, is especially difficult. It is estimated that only two per cent of disabled Tanzanians have used rehabilitation services.
The Ministry of Health and the Special Fund have launched a programme to promote the rights of disabled people. “The ultimate aim is to ensure that all those in need of physical rehabilitation have access to the necessary services. This will have an effect, not only on individual lives but on the entire society,” said Dr Hussein Ally Mwinyi, Minister for Health and Social Welfare.
Disabled people throughout the country will be identified and referred to the proper physical rehabilitation facilities, and their difficulties in gaining access to rehabilitation services dealt with. Furthermore, the development of regional satellite workshops nearer their homes will make it easier for disabled people to reach physical rehabilitation facilities.
“It is envisaged that the government of Tanzania will take greater responsibility for this programme by allocating an increasing percentage of the budget, to ensure not only its continuity but also its prospects for expansion,” said Jozef Nagels, who heads the Special Fund in Tanzania.
The ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled was created in 1983. It aims to achieve the socio-economic integration of disabled people by promoting accessibility to rehabilitation centres, enhancing the quality of patient services, and ensuring the long-term functioning of the centres.
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