Tag Archives: inclusion

Eye health and the environment – why sustainability and inclusivity go hand in hand

David Lewis, CBM Focal Point for Environmental Sustainability, and Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive of CBM UK  on an important opportunity to  promote environmental sustainability in the eye-health sector amid a month of climate disaster.

The need for global responsibility cannot be plainer. Hurricanes in quick succession battering communities in the Caribbean, leaving many homeless and with little help, including people with disabilities. Hurricane Maria followed Harvey and Irma. Now Nate has struck. Sometimes it’s hard to feel optimistic that our efforts do enough, soon enough, to temper the onslaught of extreme weather following decades of en-vironmental damage.

However there is hope and CBM is determined to do our bit to improve the sustain-ability of all of our work. In September we logged in via Skype to Kathmandu to join the launch of an international working group for environmental sustainability, one of our biggest priorities if we are to see global health of the world’s poorest people improve.

The group has   been set up by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) after a proposal  from member organisations including CBM, Vision 2020 UK, Aravind Eye Care System as well as other interested individuals.

Our aim is to bring together well-researched and creative approaches to strengthen environmental sustainability in eye health organisations around the world.

 

Patients after cataract surgery at Caritas Takeo Eye Hospital, Cambodia. Open, airy verandahs allow for air movement, keeping the hospital cooler and creating a pleasant environment for patients to wait.

Central to CBM’s mission
Climate change and environmental degradation have a devastating impact on all parts of the world, but this is particularly true for the world’s poorest communities. What drives our determination is knowing people with disabilities and other vulner-able groups are among those most affected on a daily basis, and in every part of their lives.

Health and well being are at risk in polluted and dangerous environments. These communities often lack access to safe water and sanitation, to sustainable food and energy sources. They face increasing risks due to natural and man-made disasters and more often than not find themselves at the back of the relief aid queue.

In terms of  eye health, we know that the communities most susceptible to envi-ronmental degradation carry some of the highest rates of avoidable and permanent blindness.

CBM is acutely aware that climate change is predicted as one of the largest health threats of the 21st century and that health care itself is a large contributor to carbon emissions.  Working closely with high quality eye health services around the world puts CBM in a strong position to draw attention to the essential need to reduce carbon emissions.

 
Why sustainability and inclusivity go hand in hand
Environmental sustainability and inclusion have been at the heart of CBM’s work for many years. We want to improve the environment and at the same time make  sure people with disabilities and those from other marginalised groups participate in environmental programmes as their human right. Thanks to advocacy by CBM and others, the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals agreed by world leaders in September 2015, became much more inclusive.
CBM has in recent years created a resource booklet to help and inspire those seeking to make eye health services, and health and development programmes generally, more environmentally sustainable. It includes case studies, checklists and ideas with input from our  global advisors and partners in the field.  We want to demonstrate the wide ranging actions possible to strengthen environmental sustainability, particularly in the poorest countries, and gather evidence of the effectiveness of CBM’s actions so that we can replicate our most effective interventions elsewhere.  As well as environmental sustainability and inclusion, – this booklet highlights the need for accessibility, gender equality , safe-guarding those at risk, and disaster risk reduction as keys to sound development practice.

 
Case Study, Cambodia
We were delighted to have one of our studies highlighted at the IAPB Council meetings in  Kathmandu, as an effective model  of environmental sustainability which others in the field can learn from, as well as contributing their own ideas.
We are particularly proud of what has been achieved during our partnership with the Caritas Takeo Eye Hospital from 1996 – 2013.
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in  Asia, with the majority  of the population living in poor  rural areas, with low access to services. Blindness is a key factor  contributing to this poverty.
It was in 2006 when  the chance came  to innovate in all areas of hospital life. The old hospital had to be demolished and all the stake-holders  wanted the new one, from its construction, energy and water supplies, to its cooking equipment and even surgery techniques to be of the lowest impact on the environment possible.  The hospital is proving to be a great model, with ongoing assessment of things which could be improved.
The hospital offers excellent eye care in accessible buildings which like many of the other facilities are above ground to reduce the threat from flooding. The “3 R’s” are used everyday -reduce recycle re-use .

 
Environment Sustainability Work Group – sharing expertise
CBM hopes the Cambodia study will help other IAPB members strengthen  high quality environmental practices and widen inclusivity in their own eye hospitals.

As a result of this and other expertise recognised within CBM, we had the opportunity to be one of the leads in  setting up the Environmental Sustainability Work Group for the IAPB.
Its launch in Kathmandu was a great success with CBM and other IAPB members setting out ambitious plans for innovation and learning, so that the best community eye services can be available while minimising their economic and environmental impact.
We are making progress.  Our determination to put the environment and inclusion at the epi-centre of the fight against poverty and inequality is moving forward.

 

Tomorrow we celebrate World Sight Day – make sure to read about it on our website! Also have a look at our newly released Neglected Tropical Diseases Report 2017.

Opening doors for positive change that will end discrimination and ensure our freedom and rights

crpd-10yr-logo-small

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, together with its Optional Protocol (which provides for the right of individual petition to the Committee), was adopted on 13th December 2006. The Convention rapidly came into force in May 2008, and has retained its momentum in rate of ratifications – to date 170 countries have ratified the Convention.  See a map of country ratifications here.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, you can read about many global activities, along with highlights over the last 10 years here.  The United Nation’s annual photograph and film festival on 3rd December showcases the best global contributions, and includes a short film by CBM Australia linking the Sustainable Development Goals and disability rights.
CBM International supported the design of the official Office of the High Commission for Human Rights logo and animated icons for the 10th anniversary, as well captioning and sign language for a film by members of the Expert Committee on the Convention, and a beautiful musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva.

Musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva

Musical recital by Dame Evelyn Glennie in Geneva

Today is a time to reflect on the participation of persons with disabilities, and their representative organisations who inspired the drafting process of the Convention. The United Nations General Assembly in New York constantly supported the active involvement of disability organizations in the drafting of the Convention. A broad coalition of organisations of persons with disabilities and allied NGOs formed the International Disability Caucus, the unified voice of organizations of people with disabilities from all regions of the world. One of its members stated that its goal was “to open doors for positive change that will end discrimination and ensure our freedom and rights”. The level of participation of organisations of persons with disabilities and NGOs in the drafting process was probably unprecedented in United Nations human rights treaty negotiations. By the Ad Hoc Committee’s final session, some 800 organisations of persons with disabilities were registered.
Beyond the negotiations, organisations of persons with disabilities have been actively involved in the lifecycle of the Convention. They were closely involved in the signing ceremony on 30 March 2007 and have been involved in the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Conference of States Parties and the Human Rights Council’s annual debates on the Convention. I have been a member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities since 2013.

 

Please join in the celebration the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities.

International Day of People with Disability: towards a barrier free reality

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), also known as World Disability Day is annually observed on 3 December each year. This Day aims to promote an awareness of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The blog piece below is attributed to CBM Australia.

 

Globally, there are one billion people with disabilities, and 80 per cent live in developing countries. People with disabilities often face barriers to inclusion in many aspects of daily life and these barriers can stop them from achieving their full potential.

To mark International Day of People with Disability, CBM Australia has created a video to illustrate some of these barriers and to show that we all have a role to play in making a barrier free word a reality for everyone.

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Watch video: A Barrier Free Reality

Barriers come in many forms, including those relating to the physical environment; or negative attitudes and discrimination; or lack of suitable access to information; or those resulting from discriminatory legislation or policy.

These barriers can often stop people with disabilities from gaining education and employment opportunities; accessing vital rehabilitation and healthcare; or participating fully in their communities.

Let’s take a closer look at Orsula from Timor-Leste. She was born with an impairment that affects her legs, making mobility more difficult for her. Orsula has faced many barriers to inclusion throughout her life; barriers to: education, employment, health care, and participation in her community.

Orsula from Timor-Leste © CBM Australia

Orsula from Timor-Leste © CBM Australia

From childhood she was left out of school, not because she wasn’t more than capable of learning.

“When I was a child my dad dropped me out of school because he was embarrassed with my condition. I saw my friends go to school and asked my dad if I could go back to school, but because my dad was afraid and worried that people would make fun of me, he didn’t let me go back”

Being left out of school creates a long lasting impact. When children with disabilities don’t attend school, they are more likely to live in poverty as an adult.

Despite not having the opportunity to gain an education, Orsula learned how to sew and works as a tailor to contribute to her family’s income.

“Even though I have a disability, I work as a tailor. I love sewing. I do this to earn some money for my children’s food.”

But like many people with disabilities, she often earns less for her work.

“Some people are kind, they give me $5 when I fix their clothes, but some are not. They give me just $1 or 50 cents. I feel sad when they do that. I can’t force them to give me higher pay.”

However, Orsula’s most significant barrier was caused by negative attitudes of health care providers.

“It happened with my first-born child. They [midwives] were just shocked when they saw me, and spoke to each other saying that I won’t be able to give birth naturally; they said it will be hard for me to push with my condition and I can’t take a big breath.”

Many didn’t believe that she was capable of delivering her children naturally, and even worse, some said she shouldn’t have children at all.

“My third and fourth children were only one year apart. Because they were exactly a year apart, they [nurses and midwives] were shocked and start verbally abusing me by saying “why does she want to have children all the time while she has this condition”. It hurt me when they said that.”

“They didn’t know what I am capable of. I am strong.”

While there are many barriers, we can work together to help break them down. One powerful way to do that relates to this year’s International Day of People with Disability theme: Achieving 17 goals for the future we want.

The theme is in recognition of the Sustainable Development Goals, commonly known as the Global Goals, which were adopted by world leaders in September 2015. These 17 goals aspire to pave the way to a world in 2030 where poverty is a thing of the past and no one is left behind.

Including people with disabilities in all 17 goals – goals such as health care, education and employment – will bring us closer to achieving the future we want. A future where barriers no longer stop people with disabilities from achieving their full potential.

For Orsula, her vision for the future is a world where negative attitudes are changed so that no women with disabilities will have to face the same discrimination and treatment that she faced when having children.

“If I were to have another baby then I hope that it is more accessible for people with disability. I hope the nurse will be more understandable and patient with us people with disability. I hope they change their attitudes towards people with disability.”

We all have a role to play in making a fairer, more inclusive, and ultimately, barrier free world a reality for everyone. What will your role be?

Working together to break down barriers © CBM Australia

Working together to break down barriers © CBM Australia

Let’s “Shape the future” together

Katharina Pförtner, Global Advisor for Inclusive Education and Regional Advisor for Community Based Rehabilitation, based in Nicaragua writes about her experience while participating in the Inclusion International Conference ‘ Shape the Future’ held in Orlando USA in October 2016.

Partially visually impaired After-School Club Coordinator Chethankumar (2nd from right) leads 'Cheering Up', a highly inclusive exercise that gets the children enthusiastic about engaging with one another.

Partially visually impaired After-School Club Coordinator Chethankumar (2nd from right) leads ‘Cheering Up’, a highly inclusive exercise that gets the children enthusiastic about engaging with one another.

The Inclusion International Conference ‘Shape the future‘s’ main goal was to create a Global Resource to support Self Advocates with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Under the headline: “Nothing about us without us” around 900 participants from USA and around the globe came together (I met participants from over 24 countries!)

The discussion in the different workshops and presentations was intense and inclusive, Self-advocates were all around, demanding their rights and easy to understand communication. During the Self-Advocates´Summit 80 men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities met and elaborated their demands and goals to continue working in the future. The meetings were facilitated by 12 self-advocates from different countries. There was a large group of self-advocates who could not participate (mostly because of high costs for travelling, conference as well as logistics fees) and sent their comments and videos online to the coordinating office.

 
One of the central points appearing all over the discussions was: how can we conclusively translate the rights mentioned in the UNCRPD (like the right to participate in the community, vote, live independently, receive inclusive education etc) to something concrete on the ground? how do make sure that “No one with I/DD is left behind”?

 
To do so, first we have to create the following conditions:

  1. Strengthening self-advocates and their organisations around the world
  2. Challenge negative attitudes wherever they appear
  3. Raise the voices of persons with I/DD and publicise their achievements, demands, experiences, etc. and include them in  the international discussion
  4. Collect Data (disaggregated by gender, age, disability) with  regards to health, education, employment, social inclusion
  5. Analyze the situation in justice systems in different countries and publicize instances of  exclusion from justice for persons with I/DD
  6. Include self-advocates in decision-making units, for example Sara Pickard from Wales (a women with Down Syndrome) is part of the community council in Cardiff.

For this empowerment education plays an important role: Inclusion International plans to create “Catalysts for Inclusive Education”, trying to build alliances with other organizations working in this field and coordinate experts for publications and campaigns in order to oppose the latest negative movements calling for revision of the ideas of inclusive education. In my opinion publishing good practice examples is one of the most important steps for all of us ahead.

 
We should all connect our work on the rights of persons with disabilities, including the persons with I/DD, raise awareness in CBM, partners and alliances, initiate Self-Advocates groups and strengthen them in the different levels of our work. It is important to focus in our activities and discussions on this issue, to make sure that persons with profound I/DD are included in all spheres of life.

 
I would like to share a story which left an impression on me: Ethan Saylor was killed by police officers in a cinema because he did not want to leave; he wanted to watch the movie a second time. He had no ticket. The officers were not able to understand him, he was thrown to the floor and with the three men on his chest, he could not breathe any more. His mother started meetings and campaigning against this injustice which killed her son. She succeeded in initiating a commission where police, justice, self-advocates, parents, politicians discussed much needed changes. This resulted in a training which all police officers will be participating, where self-advocates are included as facilitators.

 
I leave you with some strong statements from participants at the conference:

  • “Normal is boring, who needs to be normal?” “Unboxing” is needed.
  • Independence means different things in different cultures, does not mean to be alone, but to have control about one´s life.
  • Make sure that people matter and their voices are heard. Self-advocacy starts at birth.
  • Legal capacity is not about mental capacity; it is about power over ones decisions, preferences and will.