First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has called for concerted efforts to remove barriers that prevent persons with disability from realizing their full potential.
She said issues affecting people with disability should be given priority in policy and legislation.
“Disability needs to be given higher priority in policy and legislation. But policy and legislation alone will not solve the discrimination that persons with disabilities face every day because what we are doing as individuals is not enough,” she said, adding: “We need to do better. We all, individually, can play a role and ensure Kenya does become an all inclusive nation.”
The First Lady was speaking Tuesday in Migori where she distributed 140 hand-driven mobility carts to persons with disability. Apart from Migori residents, beneficiaries of the mobility carts were also drawn from other counties including Kwale, Narok, Kisumu, Nakuru, Machakos, Lamu, Eldoret, Kisii, Busia, Bomet and Kericho.
The carts were donated by the Kenya Relief Organisation, a faith-based organization operating from Migori but helping people with disability and other vulnerable groups across the country.
Noting that persons with disability especially women and children are among the most marginalized and at higher risk of experiencing poverty than any other social groups, the First Lady said she has committed the next five years to highlighting their needs.
“I am committed to looking for interventions that provide social protection as well as social inclusion so that we can accelerate progress where it has been slow,” the First Lady said.
The First Lady applauded the Government for working to improve the welfare of persons with disability, saying resources, training as well as social assistance and safety nets have been channeled to persons and families living with disability through the Labour and Social Protection and Health ministries.
She emphasized the need for the registration of persons living with disability so that they could be facilitated to access healthcare, education and other services.
“Research and data, providing numbers and knowledge, must be reliable to inform health policy decisions, investment priorities and resource allocation,” she said.
The First Lady pointed out that the medical assessments and distribution of mobility carts, she was presiding over, were an additional step to a journey in ensuring vulnerable groups are not left behind.
“People with disabilities have so much to offer. They are a resource which must be valued and harnessed. It is therefore important that we capture their potential and talent. We must be vigilant in ensuring that we are true to our Constitution – to be an inclusive nation that assures every individual that they belong,” she said.
New surgical ward
She commended the Kenya Relief Organization for its commitment to changing the lives of thousands of Kenyans, particularly uplifting the lives of persons with disability.
“For almost 20 years now, you have been steadfast and unwavering in your work. Each year you coordinate three hundred medical specialists from around the world to come to Kenya to serve over 10,000 children, women and men giving them access to life-changing affordable corrective surgeries and medical equipment,” she said.
Earlier, the First Lady opened a new surgical ward of the Brase Clinic and Vision Centre and expressed optimism that the new facility will enhance provision of both surgery and post surgical care to Kenyans.
“I have no doubt that the expansion of these facilities will help increase the numbers of patients treated, and I look forward to seeing your impact grow,” the First Lady said.
The First Lady who also opened a cafeteria of the Kenya Relief Organization’s Academy in Migori pointed out that the organization’s unique model of provision of affordable healthcare to people complemented the national goal of universal access to affordable healthcare.
Migori Governor Zachary Obado thanked the First Lady for championing the welfare of vulnerable groups, saying the Beyond Zero mobile clinic the county received two years ago has boost the health of residents.
The Governor said he fully supports President Kenyatta’s efforts to entrench peace, unity and stability across the country.
Other speakers included the Kenya Relief Organization founder Steve James and the National Council for Persons with Disability (NCPWD) Executive Director Mohammed Gabbow.