National Council proposes recommendations to enhance support for persons with disabilities

The National Council’s Social and Cultural Affairs Committee presented recommendations to enhance the government’s efforts to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in the country today. The recommendations include strengthening policy implementation, improving access to education and healthcare, raising public awareness, and ensuring nationwide accessibility.

The National Health Survey 2023 reported about 48,000 persons with disabilities, a significant increase from over 15,000 in 2017.

According to the report, the highest disability rates were found in Dagana, Pema Gatshel, Lhuentse, Wangdue Phodrang, and Zhemgang districts.

In its recommendations, the committee’s deputy chairperson talked about efforts to prevent disabilities and improve accessibility.

“The committee recommends research to understand the cause of disabilities so that we can develop strategies to stop it from happening. We also want to see all hospitals and clinics accessible, along with a clear system for getting disability certificates,” said Tshering, deputy chairperson of the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee, National Council.

The committee also suggested increasing the number of foreign caregivers and making government information available for persons with disabilities.

“The committee wants to make sure people with disabilities in Bhutan get the help they need. We recommended bringing in more caregivers from abroad for those who require extra assistance, and also making government websites and information accessible through text-to-speech technology.”

Besides, the committee also proposed recommendations like housing allotment for persons with disabilities, disability allowance, prioritising investment in Special Educational Needs teachers, reserving designated quota of government positions and exploring options for affordable transportation beyond Thimphu.

For the first time, persons with disabilities also attended the National Council session.

“With the review report being introduced and discussed, I not only hope the government supports the recommendations but also comes up with good plans and policies for persons with disabilities,” said Dorji Phuntsho, IT and Communication Officer of Disabled People’s Organisation of Bhutan.

“This deliberation is important for us, the persons with disabilities. This deliberation will help give us equal opportunity, and equal accessibility as the government comes up with new laws and policies,” said Yeshey Gyaltshen, a teacher at Wangsel Institute for the Deaf.

The National Council will continue deliberation on the recommendations tomorrow.

Karma Samten Wangda

Edited by Sonam Pem

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