Govt to make more facilities accessible to disabled people

Monday, August 17, 2009

Scenery Park - Public Works Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu says government is determined to ensure that more public facilities are accessible to people with disabilities.

Speaking during the launch of the newly renovated John Dube Disability Friendly Clinic recently, Ms Bogopane-Zulu made it clear that government was fighting against the marginalisation of people with disabilities.

"As government, we understand that there's a lot that needs to be done. But we will ensure that more and more facilities are accessible to people with disabilities," she added.

The deputy minister, who's partially sighted, urged the local community to ensure that the facility did not go to waste, stressing the importance of utilising the clinic.

"Disabled mothers must utilise this service and not give birth at home," Ms Bogopane-Zulu said.

She appealed to the clinic staff to ensure that they provide the best services to local community members when they visited the clinic. The deputy minister emphasised the importance of treating patients, particularly the disabled, with the dignity they deserved.

"If you don't have dignity then you're not treated as a human being. The success of this project will not be informed by the number of stairs we removed in front of this clinic, it will be informed by personalities and attitudes," the deputy minister said.

The Buffalo City Municipality (BCM) had given the clinic a major facelift in an effort to ensure access to the disabled people.

"The clinic has been renovated to ensure proper access to all patients including those that use wheelchairs and those that are deaf," said municipal spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya, adding that other clinics renovated were in Berlin and Cambridge.

He said ramps were built where necessary, disability toilets were renovated and adjustable beds were purchased to make it easy for people that were wheelchair bound to transfer themselves.

"Sign language interpreters have been engaged to assist the nurses to communicate with deaf patients," Mr Ngwenya said.

Apart from catering for people with disabilities, the clinic will also cater for those affected by HIV and AIDS.

Mr Ngwenya said the initiative will ensure that the often marginalised members of the society get the attention they deserve.

Nokuzola Mdiza, who suffers from polio, gave the newly renovated clinic the thumbs up. She said it would be easier for disabled people to collect their medication at the clinic.

"We feel very happy because government is dealing with our needs," she added.

Noxolo Yenana, another disabled person, said the initiative showed that government was leading by example in showing that disabled people were being treated with dignity. She wished that more public institutions could be made accessible to them.