A local umbrella organisation of persons with disabilities in the fight against HIV/AIDS and for health promotion (UPHLS) has called for concerted efforts to meet specific needs of each type of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in formulating guidelines, policies and legislation on HIV and general health promotion.
Officials fromUPHLS said, despite the effort to promote the welfare of PWDs, a lot still needs to be done.
The call was made during an event organised by UPLHS in partnership with Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) to develop strategies to ensure legal instruments and policies on HIV and AIDS are friendly to those with different types of disabilities.
Faustin Xavier Karanga, the executive director of UPHLS, said that even though there has been improvement in scaling up of health services for people with disabilities, there are gaps that need to be filled to ensure all rights of the PWDs are met.
“There has been a lot of improvement in terms of health services provided for people with disabilities, including HIV/AIDS services, such as maintaining the doctor-patient confidentiality despite some of them having speech impairment.
“The public and civil society organisations, however, have a role to play in ensuring that certain gaps such as stigmatisation and health care are provided for the persons with disabilities. Families that have members with disabilities should support them in terms of healthcare,” he said.
Romalis Niyomugabo, the president of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities, noted the need for PWDs to understand the laws governing them and adopt strategies to make HIV and AIDS policies friendly to them.
“Certain laws are not clear to them but as a government body, we are carrying out trainings to help them understand policies, laws and thier rights. There is need, however, to strengthen PLWDs local organisations’ capacity to advocate for and ensure long-term sustainability of HIV care and treatment services and integrate them into the national health care system,” he said.
UPHLS is a Rwanda based non-governmental organisation that promotes the rights and inclusion of people with impairments in national HIV response and health promotion.