President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has by Proclamation declared Sunday, October 15, 2017, as “World Sight and White Cane Safety Day,” to be observed throughout the Republic as a Working Holiday on Monday, 16 October.
According to a Foreign Ministry release issued on 13 October, this year’s World Sight and White Cane Safety Day’s celebration will take place at the S.T. Nagbe United Methodist Church on 13th Street in Sinkor, under the theme: “Respect the White Cane”.
The Proclamation calls on the National Commission on Disabilities, Ministries of Justice and Education as well as other relevant agencies of government, local and international NGOs, civil society organizations, partners-in-progress to join the Ministry of Health in organizing appropriate programs befitting the observance of the day.
The Proclamation is in consonance with Resolution 56.26, adopted by Health Ministries of the World Health Organization, mandating member states to observe World Sight and White Cane Safety Day, focusing awareness on the recognition that eye health and visual impairment are of public health concern.
It further indicates that since the invention of the White Cane, it has become a significant symbol of courage and hope in blindness, which serves as traffic sign and courtesy request from police, motorists and pedestrians to give the right of way to the blind, including, access to all public transports.
The Proclamation also adds that it is the sole responsibility of the Government of Liberia to recognize and protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, particularly, those who are physically challenged including the blind.
Approximately, 285 million people worldwide live with impaired vision and blindness and of these, 39 million people are blind; 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment while 19 million children are visually impaired or blind. 82 percent of the people live with blindness at age 50 and above in low-income countries across the world.