By Fasilat Lawal
Government at all levels have been urged to include persons living with disabilities, PLWDs, in policy making in the country.
A lecturer at the Department of Special Education University Of Ibadan, Professor Ayo Osisanya, made the call at a seminar organized by the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria held at Western Hall, Agodi Secretariat, Ibadan.
Speaking on the theme, “Embrace Inclusion -Transform Lives”, for the Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Professor Osisanya explained that individuals with special needs needed to be given rehabilitation and education for them to become self dependent in future and not to be a burden to their parents and care givers.
Chairman, Community Chest Council, Oyo State, Dr Olusola Olaganju who said disability should not be seen as a death sentence, urged government to give regard to people with disability for them to contribute to the gross domestic product Of the country.
Also, a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Dr Oluwakemi Ashubu advised parents of children living with down syndrome to always bring them to the hospital for routine health checks as part of efforts to keep them healthy, saying such children should not be labelled as outcasts.
In a goodwill message, the Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Professor Jessie Otegbayo represented by Head Of Department Of Paediatrics, Dr Adanze Asinqbi appreciated the president and management of the Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria for their impact over the years in the service of humanity, in advocacy and inclusion, Professor Otegbayo encouraged parents to enrol their children in the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, to help them get proper medication and treatments for several diseases.
A parent of a child living with Down Syndrome, Dr Princess Nwakwo, who noted that such children were gifts from God that should be loved and embraced, enjoined parents not to discriminate and withhold education from them to also have potentials.
Earlier in an address of welcome, the president of the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria , Mrs Rose Mordi explained that the aim of the seminar was to create awareness on Down Syndrome and to advocate for total inclusion of children living with the disease and the change of mind-set of people from the misconceptions, ignorance and superstitions regarding disability.
The event had in attendance, children living with Down syndrome, students from the University Of Ibadan, parents and caregivers.