British lawmaker lauds Rwanda's disability policy

The Shadow Minister for Disabled People in the United Kingdom (UK), Kate Green, has lauded Rwanda's efforts to advance the interests of Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs).
L-R: Green, Rwaka and Francesca Tengela during the meeting at Parliament on Thursday. (John Mbanda)
L-R: Green, Rwaka and Francesca Tengela during the meeting at Parliament on Thursday. (John Mbanda)

The Shadow Minister for Disabled People in the United Kingdom (UK), Kate Green, has lauded Rwanda’s efforts to advance the interests of Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs).

 Green said this on Thursday after meeting Members of Parliament.

 Green, 54, a British Labour Party politician, has been MP for Stretford and Urmston since 2010.

 “It interesting to see mainstreaming of policies for people with disabilities in all aspects,” said the former magistrate.

 Green is in the country on an official study tour aimed at familiarising herself with Rwandan policies that foster interests of PWDS and  open up a new relationship between the two countries aimed advancing interests of people with disabilities.

 Rwanda has about 450,000 persons with disabilities, about 4.2 per cent of the total population, according to 2012 Population Census data.

 “Causes of disability includes congenital disorders, diseases such as polio, non-curable diseases like diabetes, accidents, and wounds inflicted on some people by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” a report by the National institute of statistics of Rwanda states.

 MP Gaston Rusiha, the representative of PLWDs in Parliament, told the British lawmaker that the government put in place various laws that protect and advance interests of  PLWDs.

 “Rwanda is undergoing reforms in all sectors where vulnerable groups such as poverty-stricken survivors of the Genocide, demobilised soldiers who need reintegration into civilian life, persons with disabilities are all included,” Rusiha said.

 Rusiha said the National Council for Persons with Disabilities is developing the Rwanda sign language dictionary, which will eventually make sign language recognised as a national language.

 “Vaccination coverage is improving with an increase in the number of children having all vaccinations from 75 per cent in 2005 to 90 per cent in 2010.  This contributes to disability prevention,” Rusiha added.

 About 468 houses for ex-combatants with disabilities have been constructed and the veterans receive a monthly stipend, according to the lawmaker.

 However, all is not well according to Rusiha as he stated that stigmatisation of PLWDs still undermines government’s  efforts to advance their rights.

 “We still have inadequate national resources to support PLWDs,” he said.

 Green said challenges are similar in both countries, and called on the lawmakers to advocate for more rights of PLWDs.

 “As legislators we have to scrutinise and hold government responsible as we advocate for the right of PLWDs,” she said.

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