POLIO: Group Calls For More Awareness, Implementation of Disability Rights Act

By Esther Atani, The Sight News

ABUJA: According to World Health Organization, over 20 million people worldwide continue to live with the disabling effects of the poliomyelitis disease, also known as polio. 

Thanks to advocacy, awareness and the availability of vaccines, the world has seen a steep decline in the total number of polio cases worldwide. 

Although Nigeria may be certified as “Polio-free” in December when it would have accomplished the interruption of the transmission of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV) for over three years, survivors of the polio virus are still living with the physical and psychological effects of the disease.

Dr. Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, Executive Director, Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC), who made this known at a Walk Rally held in Abuja on Monday October 21, to mark the upcoming World Polio Day 2019, called on the federal government to implement the Disability Rights Act signed in January 2019.

Implementation of the Act she said, will enable polio survivors and other differently abled people have a better standard of living.

The Fountain Walk Rally, was held to create awareness for the survivors of post-polio syndrome who still suffered health challenges, social exclusion and discrimination.

DRAC Executive Director,  Dr. Irene Patrick-Ogbogu giving her remarks.

Dr. Irene, lamented that in the commendable fight to eradicate the polio virus, the effects of the virus on the physical and mental health of survivors who are now adults were often ignored. 

Also speaking the Former President, National Association of the Blind, David Okon, pushed for more social advocacy and involvement of Nigerians, to eradicate discrimination and stigmatization of persons living with disabilities. 

He made a demand on the Federal Government to establish a National Disability Commission to give differently abled citizens of Nigeria a voice.

Meanwhile, Mr John Sumonu, a representative of the President of Hayat Foundation – Barrister Amina Bello, encouraged differently abled persons to look within themselves for their gifts and potentials. 

He urged attendees at the event to guard against a disability of the mind.

Speaking to The Sight News in an interview, Mrs Nike Oke a strong supporter of DRAC, revealed  that the greater percentage of adults living with post-polio syndrome, herself inclusive, contracted the virus as a result of being injected with expired vaccines. 

She spoke out against the stigmatization she faced as a child and urged pregnant women and nursing mothers to take the necessary steps in education and vaccination to prevent their children contracting the virus.

Also speaking to our Reporter, a polio survivor,  Mrs Ebere Annabel, narrated her harrowing experience growing up and being different from those around her. 

A polio survivor, Mrs Ebere Annabel

Annabel, who spoke against the daily hardships faced by impaired people in accessing buildings and modes of transportation,  urged the federal government to implement the proposed 5 year moratorium on buildings, to comply with building specifications outlined in the Disability Act.

The Fountain Walk which was to commemorate the World Polio Day 2019, was supported by the Rule of law and anti-corruption programme, funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council.

It had the theme, “Beyond Polio Eradication: Access to Multi-Sectoral Services for Polio Survivors”. 

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