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The Children’s Development Centre (CDC) in Nigeria has reiterated the need for parents, communities and governments to provide necessary support to people living with disabilities through the provision of care and services as well as policy directions.

The CDC, a non-governmental organization (NGO), dedicated to the care and support of people living with disabilities, made the call at a Parents’ Summit in Lagos. It formed part of activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the organization. The Summit, tagged: “Over-riding Stigma with Compassion in the Community: Is this a Family’s Solution?”, addressed the need for communities to provide adequate support structures devoid of stigmatization for the care and management of people, particularly children living with disabilities.

Director, CDC, Dr Yinka Akindayomi, lamented that very little progress has been made in  addressing the challenges and needs of special people as families and the society largely live in denial and unwilling to provide the necessary support.

According to him, it was the need to change the attitude and direct attention to this area of need that the Centre organized the Parents’ Summit. “For far too long, parents and families have worked in silos, trying to provide care and services to their children with special needs. For as long as parents do not get together to address these issues as a group, it would be difficult to get support from the government and policy makers,” Dr Akindayomi said.

“It is indeed, disturbing that governments at both the state and federal levels are paying little attention to this area. For instance, only Lagos State has enacted a Disability Act, and that is not even comprehensive enough as it fails to address the issue of stigmatization of special people,” Dr Akindayomi added. The summit addressed issues such as early detection of disabilities in children and intervention, access to quality and timely information, family financial management and health insurance, nutrition and management of diets to reduce risk factors and child abuse, among others.

Parents recounted their experiences and challenges, providing care and support for their children with disabilities, while experts in nutrition, insurance, family and behaviourial health services, financial planning and relationships provided the perspective. Parents were encouraged to work as a team to prevent burnout as well as ensure that governments provide the right infrastructure and support. It was resolved at the summit that parents’ forum as a support group be instituted to gain the government’s attention.

The CDC is a service oriented, not-for-profit organization, dedicated to provide a broad range of educational and support services for children, young people and their families within the community. It is a place where children and young people with developmental disability have a “sense of belonging”. It was established 20 years ago. “It is a facility donated by the Lagos State Government, where we have begun to meet our children’s needs for the future and the present,”Akindayomi said.

Source: The Nation Newspaper

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