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Over 2.13 percent of the population has some form of disability

Over 2.13 percent of the population has some form of disability

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The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines now has more information on people living with disabilities and the nature of their disabilities.{{more}}

This is after a group of Cuban medical experts handed over the findings of the Life to Live study to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Minister of Health Dr. Douglas Slater on Wednesday, March 31, at the Foreign Affairs Conference Room.

The study, which represents the largest investigation ever made in the area of disabilities in this country, took the Cuban officials just over one month to complete. They covered areas ranging from Fancy to Chateaubelair and the Grenadines.

Among the major findings, 2,195 people were identified to have some form of disability, whether physical, intellectual, mental or multiple. It was further observed that most people with disabilities are male, with mental and intellectual disabilities being the most prevalent. Further, 322 people are totally dependent on others for carrying out activities of daily living and another 1,216 need some level of assistance.

The Minister of Health said the Life to Live study is a highly scientific one which we could not do on our own, and he is pleased that St Vincent and the Grenadines is the first English speaking Caribbean country to benefit from such a study.

Slater said the study has picked up a significant number of amputees. As a result, the Ministry has to review its programmes to deal with managing cases which may lead to amputations such as chronic non-communicable diseases, the most common being diabetes.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gonsalves in his remarks said that a civilization is judged to a large extent by the way it treats, handles and addresses the issues and concerns of the disadvantaged in its society.

With an estimated 2.13 per cent of the population having some form of disability, Gonsalves said he has noted the causes brought forward by the study and his government will now work towards implementing a practical work programme of correctives immediately over a medium and long term basis.

Issues of housing for the disabled, including electricity and water, as well as wheelchair accessible roads, are some of the factors which the Prime Minister noted are to be addressed.

“To handle the issue efficaciously, we need a lot of resources,” Dr. Gonsalves said. He, however, added that with local funds and some from the European Union, the government programmes will go a long way to make sure that “Life to Live” takes every disabled person from the shadows into the sunlight.

The Live to Live study was carried out in Cuba between 2001 and 2003. It was concluded in Venezuela in 2008. The study is currently being carried out simultaneously in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia. (API)

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