4:12 am | Friday, May 31st, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—Children with disabilities (CWDs) and their communities will both benefit if society focuses on what these children can achieve, rather than on what they cannot do, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said in its annual report on the State of the World’s Children.
Concentrating on the abilities and potential of CWDs will create benefits for society as a whole, according to the report that Unicef released Thursday. “When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that the child has to offer,” said Unicef executive director Anthony Lake. “Their loss is society’s loss; their gain is society’s gain.”
The report lays out how societies can integrate CWDs to allow them to play a full part in society and prevent discrimination against them. It points out how inclusive education broadens the horizons of all children even as it presents opportunities for CWDs to fulfill their ambitions.
In the Philippines, census data showed 201,896 CWDs reported in 2002, with about 2.9 percent of the Filipino population having some form of disability. Vision-related disabilities recorded highest at 50 percent, followed by motor-related and mental disabilities (both at 14 percent), and hearing disability (13 percent). The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 percent of the global population are disabled.
The Unicef report said CWDs were the least likely to receive health care or go to school. They were among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they were hidden or put in institutions because of the social stigma or the economic cost of raising them.
The combined result is that CWDs are among the most marginalized people in the world.
Gender is also a key factor, as girls with disabilities are less likely than boys to receive food and care.
“We should see the wealth of ability that each child with a disability has to offer, and enable them to engage and participate in their communities. If children remain uncounted in statistics and put away in institutions, we will not be successful in being a truly inclusive society,” Unicef Philippines representative Tomoo Hozumi said.
To read “The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities” and see additional multimedia material, visit weshare.unicef.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&PSID=2AM4GJKZZUU.
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