Handicap International (HI) has said that the blind have been neglected in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“Programmes to fight AIDS have not been considering the fact that these people cannot read what is written in either books or billboards,” said Jacques Sindayigaya, HI’s coordinator of the programme to fight HIV among the blind.
He was speaking at Hotel Novotel-Umubano on Monday in a workshop organized to brainstorm for a better way to fight the scourge among the blind. The workshop was attended by representatives of the blind from five districts of Eastern Province.
In the five pilot districts; Nyagatare, Kirehe, Ngoma, Kayonza and Gatsibo, the blind spearheaded the trainings and carried out a voluntary testing for HIV. Sindayigaya said that the programme will help the blind access information on HIV.
“This will help in finding ways of helping and incorporate them in the general programme to fight HIV/AIDS among Rwandans,” he explained.
As a means of facilitating the blind in the programme, HI provided them with radio receivers and cassettes, batteries and carried out training of the trainers.
The Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Union of the Blind, Donatilla Kanimba said that it was an important move, adding it would make them easily understand how to handle their problems.
“Sometimes health advisors have misconception about the blind. They isolate us when it comes to health issues,” Kanimba said. She continued that blind people’s rights were sometimes violated and suffered sexual abuse.
The director of HI, Marc Vaernewyck, said that the NGO initiated the programme with the knowledge that the blind would have a role in the fight against HIV AIDS.