A study to identify the number, needs and the severity of persons with disability will be conducted in the five dzongkhags of Chukha, Dagana, Punakha, Sarpang, and Trashigang.

Ability Bhutan Society (ABS) will lead the study.

The need assessment camp will be conducted [by medical personnel] to find the details of individual’s disability and recommend the right intervention.

This is part of the project ‘building an equal and inclusive society’ in the identified dzongkhags.

ABS’ executive director, Ugyen Wangchuk, said that the project would try to identify differently-abled persons and provide right interventions. “We want the persons with disability to have the skills that are required. If he or she cannot speak, then we would try to provide other alternatives such as sign language, or, if they have any vocational skills, we would show them the alternatives. We want them to do what they can do.”

The project is expected to create awareness and provide professional caregiving skills to the families of the persons with disability. The project also aims at providing an accessible environment to persons with disability inside and outside homes by providing assistive technologies.

Chairperson at ABS, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, said the project would focus on skill development among caregivers, awareness on identification of detection, individual therapy, and introduction to access to equipment. “With this project, we hope to develop disabled-friendly guidelines, elaborate and implement them, sensitise over 660 employees in the government agencies, strengthen public perception, improve access to health services, and personalise early support for disabled people.”

The project is expected to benefit about 7,750 persons with disability in these five dzongkhags. Among them 1,240 are children, 2,712 women, and 3,798 men.

To achieve the targets and to ensure sustainability of the activities, the project will collaborate with and involve all relevant government institutions and non-government organisations, including the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that according to World Health Organisation, people with disability had poor health outcome, lower education achievement, fewer economic opportunity and higher rates of poverty than the people without disability. “This is largely because we lack services and an enabling environment. I hope there is an evaluation plan so that we can see the impact of this project.”

ABS has 37 members of which 11 would be transferred to the mainstream society.

The project is funded by ABS, DAHW Germany, BMZ, GLRA. The project will end in 2021.

Phurpa Lhamo