Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Disability official explains services available in Yemen

From the Yemen Times:

According to UN statistics, about 10 percent of people are either mentally or physically disabled. Based on this rate, there are around one million disabled people in Yemen. This number will increase in future due to increase of population growth and traffic accidents. Reports confirm that traffic accidents cause many physical handicaps.

Mohammed Ghouth interviewed Aziza Al-N’uman (pictured), director of qualifying and training at the Disabled Qualifying and Care Fund, and asked her about services, programs and financial support available to disabled people in Yemen.

What are the services that the fund offers in the field of social care?

The Disabled Qualifying and Care Fund supplies needs and requirements of Social Care Fund to the disabled. Since it was established in 2002, the fund’s services have been increasing. The total services the fund offered in the field of social care amounted to YR 158,538 from 2002 to 2008 per each individual covered by the fund.

What kind of medical services do the disabled people receive from the fund?

Medical treatment and services that the fund offers to the disabled vary. They include major and minor surgical operations such as orthopedic surgeries, ophthalmologic surgeries including cataract extraction, corneal implantation, fixing lenses and associated requirements such as conducting tests and providing medicine.

Medical services also include natural treatment and other surgical operations such as adjusting spinal defects, plastic surgery, urinary tract surgery and obstetric and gynecological services. The fund offered 94,316 medical and treatment services the fund offered from 2002 to 2008.

How many disabled people benefited from qualifying and training programs?

The expenses that the fund spent in the field of qualifying and training amounted to over YR 304,790 million between 2002 and 2008. Up to 126,546 disabled people benefited from these activities through 104 centers and private organizations working in the field of qualifying and training the disabled in the different governorates of the country.

In this field, the fund supports the institutional activities and projects. It further covers the expenses of workshops, seminars and conferences. It provides funds for sports, technical and cultural activities. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of participants in such activities amounted to 330, and the cost amounted to over YR 64 million.

In addition, the fund supports participation in sports activities held outside the country and the Yemeni disabled athletes have achieved excellent results.

What kind of material and financial aid does the fund offers?

The fund provides medical equipment and other equipment like wheelchairs, specially equipped mattresses, devices for draining water from the brain and as devices that test diabetics. The fund also offers financial assistance for cases that requires treatment abroad. The number of financial and material assistances that the fund offered to the disabled between 2002 and 2008 amounted to 42,096 cases.

Can you give us figures on the disabled in the field of education?

The fund offers individual education services to disabled students in both private and public schools. These services include providing education fees, education and transportation services. The fund also holds integration programs. The number of services offered in this field to 21,580 cases between 2002 and 2008.

What kinds of programs of social integration does the fund offer to the disabled?

We integrate the disabled into society and private schools through assigning special classrooms for the deaf and mute students. For blind students, we integrate then in public schools and provide them with all of their needs. The students also go through a preparation process before they are integrated into the school. This helps prepare the disabled psychologically, as some of them refuse to go to school.

We also provide the disabled with the opportunity to study in universities and provide them with needs. Currently, we pay special attention to the disabled in the rural areas. The programs that will be offered to them are the same as those offered to the disabled in the cities.

What kind of support do you offer to help integrate disabled people into the job market?

We are working on integrating them into the different fields. Every year, we see a number of innovative disabled people enter into the different professions. We are also working on enabling the disabled to work within the community. Every handicap has a different kind of training. The fund provides training for the deaf and mute inside the associations including engineering, mechanics, electronic engineering, carpentry and blacksmithing.

Generally, physically disabled people have more capabilities than the mentally disabled. Currently, we are coordinating with Al-Amal bank to provide job opportunities. We care a lot about providing jobs for people who are able to work.

However, we don’t have enough support because we don’t have support from the government or international organizations. The main supporter of the fund is the private sector. Most of the support comes to us from the Tobacco and Matches Company.

What is your vision of the disabled as innovative people?

The disabled have become able to work due to development in the different fields of life. I was attracted by a Palestinian disabled person when he innovated a small car that enabled him to attain his living. He called on the Arab countries to support him in his innovation, as the car is good for the environment.

Disabled people have a lot of capacity. They may lost use of some part of their body, but they still have talents. For instance, they compete in international championships. Recently, the Yemeni mentally disabled were able to win the world hockey championships held in the US.

The Yemeni disabled and their peers in the developing countries lack a lot of things and suffer from a lot of problems. In the developed countries, the disabled are often provided with all the needs that can enable them to dream, aspire and achieve their targets.