Develop-ability: Disability, Displacement and Development in Uganda
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 00:00

On Tuesday 27th October, 2009, AVSI, in partnership with IF Child Help, held an opening ceremony of a Photographic Exhibition at the Parliament of Uganda Main Conference Hall under the theme, “Develop-ability: Disability, Displacement and Development in Uganda”.

 

Highlights of the Photographic Exhibition

This one-week exhibition which took place from 26th October through 30th October 2009 highlighted a broad range of issues under a general theme of inclusive development programming and promotion of community involvement in the realm of disability interventions. Consisting of photos taken by Brett Morton and Zjuul Devens, the exhibition aimed to provoke awareness and discussion of topics including the rehabilitation and prevention of conflict-related disabilities, along with the causes and prevention of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus in developing countries.

The opening ceremony was attended by representatives from the Parliament of Uganda, Donor Agencies and Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs) that are active in the area of rehabilitation or and advocacy for disability inclusion.

The speeches at the opening ceremony were aimed to sensitize the policy makers, the donor agencies and the general public on the causes, effects and policy implications of disabilities in Uganda thereby shading light on the multi-faceted challenges presented by having a disability.

Remarks from the key note speakers were as follows;

 

1. Hon. William Nockrach, MP for PWDs in the Northern Region; gave an introductory or welcoming speech; then a summary or plea for action at the conclusion of other speakers.

2. Hon. Alex Ndeezi, MP for PWDs in the Central Region; spoke about the government’s role in addressing disabilities and gave a summary of the disability friendly provisions that are embedded in the various Ugandan legislations.

3. Mr. John Makoha, Uganda Country Representative, AVSI; spoke about AVSI’s role in coordinating various projects in response to the situation in the post conflict areas in Northern Uganda. He stressed that ‘Development has a face, and every individual has value’.

4. Dr. Emmanuel Kalanzi, Manager, GROW spoke about the experiences of the Gulu Regional Orthopedic Workshop - a glimpse at the past and a vision towards the future. He gave brief technical descriptions along with personal observations on the shift in focus of the needs.

5. Mr. Lieven Bauwens, Coordinator, IF who represented Mr. Pierre Mertens, the IF President; gave a brief introduction of the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF), its’ department of Development Cooperation and the IF partners in Uganda. He stressed that the CURE Children’s hospital in Mbale was a very unique partner for IF in Uganda because it is the only hospital in sub Saharan Africa exclusively devoted to the neuro-surgical care of children serving patients from Eastern, Central and Southern Africa.

He clarified that IF, through her partner organizations in Uganda, facilitates health care intervention in the form of treatment, rehabilitation and follow-up care for children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. He also stressed that IF was passionate about awareness raising on issues of prevention, the effective management of bladder and bowel incontinence, improved nutrition and parent support groups.

6. Mr. Derek Johnson, Executive Director, CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda spoke about the hospital as a neuro-surgical centre that provides care to people who suffer from hydrocephalus (excessive water in the head) and spina bifida (a sac attached to the back), encephalocele, epilepsy and other brain or spinal tumors. He explained that it is not only the appropriate surgical procedures performed to correct these conditions but also physiotherapy and spiritual counsel are provided to countless single mothers who suffer rejection by their husbands and communities for producing ‘a deformed child’. As such, CURE takes a holistic approach in caring for the parents and care givers.

In addition to the fore mentioned, CURE is a teaching and research hospital with a new program to advance the treatment of hydrocephalus without using a shunt (ETV) being offered among others; and research to identify the causative agent of hydrocephalus in progress.

7. Mrs. Maureen Ndahura who represented Dr. Elizabeth Madraa from the Ministry of Health Food Fortification Program spoke about the importance of food fortification in the prevention of micro nutrient deficiencies and deformities such as spina bifida. Fortifying flour with iron can reduce iron deficiency health problems including poor mental development and maternal death in childbirth. It is against such a background that the Ministry of Health is partnering with the World Health Organization in lobbying   the Milling Industries and other nutrition quality control agencies to initiate fortification drives as a preventive measure of the above-mentioned deformities.

8. An official from the Ministry of the Eldery and Disability who represented Hon. Madada Sulaiman reaffirmed government’s commitment to defend the rights of persons with disabilities following the signing and the subsequent ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by Uganda. Thereafter, he pronounced the Exhibition open.

9. Hon. Safia Nalule, MP for Women with Disabilities; gave her concluding remarks by acknowledging that she had learnt a lot about the plight of children with neurological defects such as spina bifida and pledged to remain vigilant in following up on such issues that affect women and children through the committee of Gender, Labour and Social Development to which she is a member.

Following an executive luncheon at Fang Fang restaurant in Kampala, the exhibition was displayed in the lobby of Parliament throughout the last week of October, attracting the attention of many policy makers and passers-by.

List of organizations represented at event: AVSI, IF, Parliament of Uganda, Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Health, Brussels Airlines, Chemiphar, RHF-Norway, Belgian Embassy, Belgian Technical Corporation, Axfam, Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services of Uganda (CoRSU), Uganda Society for Disabled Children (USDC),  Gulu Regional Orthopedic Workshop (Grow), Katalemwa Cheshire Home, Cure Children's Hospital of Uganda, Action for Disability and Development (ADD), Organized Useful Rehabilitation Services (OURS), Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities (LAPD), National Union of Women with Disabilities in Uganda (NUWODU), National Union of Diabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), Uganda National Action of Physical Disability (UNAPD), Media: WBS TV, UBC TV, Star FM, The New Vision.