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Coast counties urged to implement UHC Disability-inclusive initiatives

[Lynette Ouma, Consultant advocacy officer (standing)from the White ribbon Alliance conducts sensitization sessions with key stakeholders on matters of persons with disability at a meeting convened by Dream Achievers Youth Organisation (DAYO)at the Kibaoni hall, Kilifi county. Photo/Courtesy/ Oct' 02, 2022].

Dream Achievers Youth Organization (DAYO) has challenged Coast counties to initiate a robust disability-inclusive programme towards achieving the government’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The organization raised red flag that despite the higher needs, persons with disabilities often encounter various barriers to accessing health services, including physical, communication, attitudinal and financial barriers.

Speaking in Kilifi during an advocacy forum with young Adolescent women with disabilities, (DAYO) Advocacy officer Betty Mtuweta said achieving UHC may just remain unrealized dream if devolved units fail to ensure disability inclusive health systems.

“Building the capacity of health service providers on disability inclusive health and ensuring information about health coverage systems are fully accessible for everyone is critical,” said Mtuweta.

Mtuweta said failure to implement key disability laws in Kilifi has continued to expose the needy persons to stigma and marginalization, thus violating their rights. She further demanded for a full implementation of the Kilifi county disability bill 2021.

The bill was enacted in 2021 by the outgoing administration, but key players have expressed concerns over its failure to be implemented to serve the key population. Both Kilifi and Mombasa counties are yet to develop a policy to guide on budget making processes.

The organization in collaboration with White Ribbon organization had convened the meeting in line with the ‘We Lead’ program it is implementing to inform and empower disabled women on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and services.

“We need to ensure that everyone receives, without financial obstacles effective and quality health services according to their needs,” said Angel Katusia,White Ribbon organization communication officer.

She is now challenging the new Kilifi county government under the stewardship of Governor Gideon Mung’aro to improve on resource allocation targeting people with disabilities.

“In the spirit of universal health coverage UHC , the county needs to hear every voice, by ensuring that they are on board in every decision making, because policies are developed excluding the user’s voice,” said Katusia.

The ‘We Lead’ program, according to Katusia will champion for the rights of the special groups since the Constitution provides for the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including reproductive health.

The National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) Kilifi representative, Michael Tsuma, said women with disabilities often face prejudice, stigma, and discrimination thereby leaving them uninformed on issues that directly affect them.

Tsuma says in Kilifi about 20,064 have different forms of disability and there is a need for the county government to formulate laws and policies related to the rights of the vulnerable population.

In Mombasa county, NCPWD in collaboration with key players is drafting a new policy to facilitate full disability mainstreaming in the devolved unit.

According to Mombasa county NCPWD Coordinator Juliet Ruwa, persons living with disability have continued to bear the brunt of marginalization in health, education and development due to legislation gaps.

The policy is being developed in collaboration with dream achievers youth organization (DAYO) and the Mombasa county government and seeks to strengthen legislations requiring at least a 5% quota for PWDs in the public and private sector.

“In the previous county government the policy was rejected and now as stakeholders we are making a new policy that will inform data collection and the budget making process,” said Ruwa.

DAYO Executive director Seif Jira regretted that PWDs in Mombasa have continued to suffer adverse socioeconomic outcomes due to discriminatory prejudice and stigma.

“In every county, there is a need to have a policy that will guide the budget making process, but in Mombasa we have none. This has continued to marginalize the special groups, we want to bring everyone on board so that we can produce an all inclusive document,” said Mr Jira.

Jira reiterated that lack of reliable and desegregated data within the county, the county government is unable to allocate enough resources to meet the needs of the important groups.

The vulnerable population says PWD data in Mombasa is not up to date and has continued to subject them to marginalization and sometimes failing to get representation within the devolved units.