PTA condemns discrimination against down syndrome leaners

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The Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria, and the Parent Teachers Association have called on the Federal Government, the United Nations, and civil organisations to end discrimination against persons with Down Syndrome and other disabilities.

The parents made this call while responding to questions at a webinar hosted by the Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria, to mark the 2024 World Down Syndrome Day.

Titled, ‘We all belong: embrace, engage, end the stereotypes,’ revealed that Down Syndrome was not a disease curable by a particular medication or antibiotics.

The National President, Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria, Mrs Rose Mordi, noted in her address that “Our theme for this year encapsulates the essence of our collective mission. Engagement is a cornerstone of progress because it fosters meaningful connections and interactions that pave the way for understanding and acceptance. Let us inspire a ripple effect that transcends virtual borders, leading to tangible transformations in attitudes and policies. Let us embrace the differences that make each of us unique, recognising the inherent value that diversity brings to our communities. In doing so, we contribute to a tapestry of inclusivity that reaches the fabric of our society.”

The Vice Chairperson, Down Syndrome Foundation, Nigeria, Parents Teachers Association, Mrs Ruth Ugwuegbulam, who spoke on behalf of parents of the special needs maintained that children with Down Syndrome laugh, cry, learn, and love just like everyone else, saying it might take longer time for them to achieve certain milestones.

When asked about what could be done to improve health equity for DS children, programme director, Down Syndrome International, Mr Nathan Rowe, who was also one of the panelists, stressed that “Health inequities are due to unfair, unjust, and avoidable situations that afflict persons with disabilities inappropriately: stigma and discrimination, inadequate policies and processes, living in poverty, transport not being accessible, not being physically active, having a poor diet, badly trained health professionals, and poor quality health service.

Improving the health systems can improve and increase the life span of people with Down Syndrome. If there are low or no barriers to people with disabilities accessing healthcare services, if health professionals provide quality care for all. When people with disabilities have access to quality health care that meets their needs, it is sure that they can compete with everybody else in society. These are big steps we can take to make health equity fair for people with disabilities.”

The panelists include the General Manager, Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs Mrs Adenike Oyetunde-Lawal, Clinical and Educational Psychologist, Prof. Roy Brown, convener of the Ibadan Down Syndrome Parent Forum, Princess Christiana Nwankwo, an Inclusion Advocate, Global Consultant and Scholar, Prof. Paul Ajuwon.

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