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Jamaican Government pledges $8.2m to assist persons with disabilities

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2015 | 2:55 PM
A disabled woman begs along Balmoral Avenue, St Andrew.

A sum of $8.2 million will be spent this year to strengthen the Government's capacity to better cater to the needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs).

The money has been made available under the Support to Improve the Lives of PWDs project, as outlined in the 2015/16 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.

The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank.

The project seeks to improve the framework for the MLSS to advance social protection policies that would impact the welfare of PWDs.

A key objective is to strengthen the capacity of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disability (JCPD) department to identify and target persons with disabilities for social benefits (rehabilitative benefits) on a continuous basis through the establishment of a database for individuals with disabilities.

It also aims to improve the quality of life of children with developmental disabilities through technical support and early intervention strategies.

Of the sum allotted, $1.41 million will be spent on retrofitting the offices of the JCPD and to maintain the main server. Additionally, $1.1 million will be used to conduct public education activities.

Another $5.72 million will be used to cover payment for data collection officers and for data entry for conducting a study on the needs of persons with disabilities.

Achievements under the project up to December 2014 include: the start of data collection for registering persons with disabilities; the completion of quantitative study on the needs of persons with disabilities; a total of 38 data collection officers contracted; and 28,533 of the targeted 50,000 PWDs registered as at September 30, 2014.

In addition, activities on developing a public education and promotion strategy commenced; registered PWDs were sensitised on their rights and where to locate services; and stakeholders were sensitised on the types of disabilities that exist in Jamaica.

Other achievements were: social workers of MLSS and JCPD trained in counselling with PWDs; Early Stimulation Programme for children with disabilities strengthened; and parents of disabled children trained in behaviour modification, speech therapy and strategies to prevent child disabilities.

- D.L.