Among the many responsibilities of the Department of Social Welfare at Liberal’s Ministry of Health is the one that deals with services to people with disabilities.
Such responsibility primarily focuses on developing the physical, mental and social capabilities of people with disabilities, as well as ensuring that they fully participate and enjoy equal rights with the view of promoting their integration into the community.
The foregoing entails pre-school rehabilitation services, services for school age disabled children, services for physically handicapped persons, services for ex-mentally ill, visually impaired and hearing impaired persons, vocational rehabilitation services, as well as employment/business opportunities and social enterprise, among several others.
Whether or not the Department of Social Welfare at the Ministry of Health has been able to thrive on these paths in the interest of hundreds of people with disabilities, is yet unknown. Unfortunately, the streets of Monrovia, its environs and other parts of the country continue to play host to as many mentally ill, physically challenged persons, as well as visually impaired persons, among others in search of survival as beggars.
Without any sign of interventions from the Ministry toward the welfare of these people in consonance with the mandate of its Department of Social Welfare, most of them continue to make the streets and other areas their homes in Monrovia and elsewhere to the disadvantage of others.
It is an established fact that in the 70’s and 80’s, there were almost all of the aforementioned services for people with disabilities, including the physically challenged, and visually impaired. Even though our intermittent civil crises may have disrupted these services provided then by the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, a little over ten years of peace and stability, as well as international supports should have, by now, resuscitated these services under the current Health Ministry.
Regrettably and sadly, very little is heard about the socio-economic well-being of people with disabilities in Liberia, despite the continuous existence of the Department of Social Welfare within the Ministry of Health. Interestingly, the department is still being funded by the National Budget, as well as supported by international donors, while there are no homes and care for people with disabilities.
This is totally unfair! These people are also Liberians that must benefit from the nation’s resources through social services purposely set aside for their well-being, so that they, too, can one way or the other contribute to the development of the motherland through programs designed for them.
It is, therefore, our appeal to the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Health to now begin to focus on the well-being of our Liberian brothers and sisters in this unfortunate category, as well as their children by ensuring that the Department of Social Welfare at the Health Ministry or wherever it is, executes its mandate to the letter. The presence of people with disabilities in the streets of Monrovia, its environs and other parts of the country does not really bespeak well of the sensitivity of the government, regarding these particular groups of citizens.