The “care” continues by the PPP/C

Dear Editor,
Thanks to the current Administration for this most important and much-needed intervention. It is that “Persons with permanent disabilities (are set) to receive lifetime assistance from the Government.” This headline must have really been received, by both the disabled community and Guyanese at large. Let me quickly mention a few things concerning the place this kind of governmental input rally has in our society.
First, we need to know that disability is part of being human. Let it be appreciated that almost all of us will temporarily or permanently experience disability at some point in our life. In fact, over 1 billion people, that is, about 15 per cent of the global population, are currently experiencing some form of disability. Worse yet is the fact that this number is increasing because of population ageing and an increase in the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases. Thus, Guyana is on the right band wagon.
The news I got from the press is that “Persons living with permanent disabilities, HIV, cancer, or any other lifelong incurable or untreatable disease, will now automatically qualify for public assistance for the rest of their lives”. This timely news, from the Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud, was made public at the commissioning of a new wing at the Night Shelter in La Penitence, Georgetown. I like the removal of red tapes and bureaucracy, couched in the explanation of the Minister. She detailed that “All persons, all living with a permanent disability, will be able to access public assistance without any need to qualify, any needs test; it’s all automatic access to public assistance.” This is not something in the making too, as she added that “… the initiative would take immediate effect across the country, including for those diagnosed with cancer and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The ‘for life’ factor is so vital, as many of those in the ‘Community of the Disabled’ were, and are still victims of ‘little or no income’. Also, as mentioned before, there will be an ease in accessing the provision, as the disabled community will not have to go before the Board of Guardians. The process is automatic, and all one has to do is to register with the National Commission on Disability (NCD). Then from there, registrants will be added to the Register for Public Assistance.
The second thing to note is that the Government is really manifesting a commitment to make the “One Guyana” motto a reality. Usually, many think of just the political arena here. And indeed, that is important. But we must remember that many care little for politics and simply want to overcome challenges and have a ‘full and meaningful life’. So, my mind goes back to what happened just a while back. We are still in ‘appreciation mode’ for the one-off cash grant of $100,000 for every child living with a disability. When he announced it, President Irfaan Ali did explain that the Administration was very cognisant of the many hardships parents and guardians of persons with disabilities, especially children, normally face. If we add the COVID-19 pandemic and other global shocks, such as natural disasters and the current Russia-Ukraine war, then we have a really bad situation on hand. For example, as the President explained, “With the increases of gas prices that are bringing tremendous hardship globally, we have been supporting every single group…and today we want to give every single child with a disability, a cash grant of $100,000 this year.” These acts of necessary ‘caretaking’ transcend political grand-standing, and we must heap accolades on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic for doing the right thing.
Let us bear in mind that people’s environment has a huge effect on the experience and extent of disability. Inaccessible environments create barriers that often hinder the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society on an equal basis with others. Progress on improving social participation can be made by addressing these barriers and facilitating persons with disabilities in their day to day lives. This is exactly what is beginning to unfold in Guyana.

H Singh