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Disabled persons demand free health care package

By Alusine Sesay

President of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI) has, in an exclusive interview with Concord Times, called on the government of Sierra Leone to speedily implement the free health care package as stipulated in the 2011 Persons With Disability Act.

Part V, section 17(1) of the Act provides that, “Every person with disability shall be provided with free medical services in public health institutions”.

Kabba Franklyn Bangura said despite the Act making such a provision, the government is yet to fully implement the free health care services for persons with disability. He said disabled persons are among the most vulnerable people in society and that government should do all in its powers to ensure they access free health care service, thus calling for the establishment of a Medical Board as also stipulated in the 2011 Act.

He however commended the government for having established the Disability Commission, but emphasized that the commission should speedily champion the implementation of the free health care services for persons with disability.

Prior to the 2012 general elections, the SLUDI president openly urged all disabled organizations to throw their support behind President Koroma, who he said did a lot to ameliorate their plights through the establishment of the 2011 Persons With Disability Act, adding that he (Koroma) should be given a second chance to accomplish the work he has started.

Aside the call for the provision of free health care services for persons with disability, the 2011 Act among others demanded that government should provide free education to all disabled persons across the country.

Government, as part of the implementation process, has established the National Commission for Persons With Disability; a commission charged with the responsibility to champion the cause of disabled persons.

While receiving the executive members of the National Commission for Persons With Disability at the Presidential Lodge, Hill Station, President Koroma promised his government’s deepest commitment towards transforming the lives of disabled persons, thus reiterating the protection of their rights to the fullest.

“Opportunities must be created for the disabled members of society, and we must send out signals to the whole world that they are indeed Sierra Leoneans by creating a favourable working environment for specialized knowledge for teaching them, and medical facilities for them to ensure that disables are fully integrated into the society,” President Koroma stated.

Meanwhile, the SLUDI president noted that the provision of free health care services for persons with disability would be very much crucial in the lives of his colleagues who, he said, mostly cannot afford to pay medical bills.