TODAY is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and will be celebrated with the theme “Making the millennium development goals inclusive: empowerment of persons with disabilities in their communities around the world”.
In Papua New Guinea, more than 600,000 men, women, and children have one or some form of physical or mental disability.
It is a growing issue in PNG, caused by population growth, ageing, lifestyle diseases, conflict, malnutrition, accidents, injuries and HIV/Aids.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote an understanding of disability issues, the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
The day provides an opportunity to mobilise actions to achieve the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities as established by the world programme of action concerning disabled persons, adopted by the United Nations General-Assembly.
In Madang, the International Day for Persons with Disabilities was celebrated with World Aids Day on Tuesday.
Disability sector organisations such as Creative Self-Help Centre, National Disability Resource and Advocacy Centre were present at the venue at Madang Bates Oval to advocate, carry out awareness and relate the issue of Disability with HIV and Aids as well.
Peter Momo, a person living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and an active advocator for PLWHA in Papua New Guinea through Igat Hope said disability was a growing epidemic in the country.
He said a lot of people with disabilities were deprived of their rights to be included in government services, such as education, accessibility into public buildings and facilities.
He gave an example of many hotels and public buildings not having proper ramps and toilet facilities for persons using wheelchairs to access easily.
Other speakers were Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet and founder of Friends Foundation Tessie Soi.
National Disability Resource and Advocacy Centre was an NGO that raises awareness on disability rights and produced the only disability magazine in Papua New Guinea called The Network which is a source of information and empowerment for persons with disabilities.