Message by Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Guyana is joining with the international community to once again observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2020 under the theme: “Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world”.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Report on Disability, 15 percent of the world’s population, or more than one billion people, are living with disability. Of this number, some 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition — and sadly two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and neglect.
Health trends suggest that the prevalence of disabilities is on the increase due to the growing incidence of chronic diseases, motor vehicle accidents, violence, and in some cases, longer life spans.
Based on the 2002 population census, and an estimated prevalence rate of 6.4 percent, the number of persons with disabilities in Guyana at the moment is likely to be around 50,000, with a further 150,000 persons indirectly affected.
In addition, many people living with disability in Guyana are not easily visible. This is indeed a stark reminder of the importance of removing barriers for all people living with disabilities.
Disability is a state of human life and every one of us has experienced temporary disability in life in some way or the other. However, our elderly is more than likely to face disability as they get older.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and diminished services have greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities around the world and, of course, here in Guyana.
The Ministry of Health is committed to raising awareness of persons with disabilities, as well as of the potentially detrimental impact on mental health, which is crucial, as Guyana continues to fight against COVID-19.
Our Government envisions that the people of Guyana should be among the healthiest in the world. We are therefore working conscientiously toward achieving this goal by advancing the well-being of all Guyanese.
As we observe International Day for Persons with Disabilities, let us strive together to remove the stigma and discrimination, to integrate and empower our brothers and sisters with disability, and to create opportunities for forging meaningful paths toward the enjoyment of a good quality of life as we move forward.