By Chidimma Ajemba

Awka, April 2, 2020 (MOI) Anambra State Health Insurance Agency head, Dr Simeon Onyemaechi  has assured the Disability Community in the state of his commitment at ensuring inclusiveness of Persons With Disabilities (PWDS) in accessing the health insurance scheme in the state.

This, he said while officially inaugurating the mobile ramp made available by his agency to help wheelchair users in accessing ASHIA buildings on April 1 in Awka.

“I just want to commend the Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWD) for being in the forefront of the fight for the rights of persons with disabilities.

“This ramp came about as a result of the promise that I made sometime in January, during your advocacy visit to my agency on the need to start implementing the Anambra State Disability Right Law.

“The Law says there should be ramps in public buildings; I already have one in my private house.

“We opted for this mobile ramp because we are operating from a rented apartment and hence cannot construct a cemented ramp. But I promise you that anytime ASHIA moves to its permanent site, ramps shall be provided for wheelchair users.

“Gov. Willie Obiano is so passionate about your people; this, he has shown by giving PWDs a sense of belonging through the appointment of one of you into his cabinet as Special Adviser on Disability Matters, Mr Chuks Ezewuzie, a Lawyer, who has always been interceding for the rights and welfare of PWDS.

Anambra is the first state to have passed the Disability Rights Law in the South East geopolitical zone in addition to other dividends.

“So, borrowing a leaf from the Governor, my agency has an exercise called Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) enrollment in partnership with Federal Government, where five slots in each Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) has been reserved for PWDS and a total of 1,650 PWDS were captured for the free health insurance.’’

In his remarks, Chairman, JONAPWD, Mr Ugochukwu Ernest Okeke hailed Dr Onyemaechi for being the first to have started the implementation of the Disability Right Law in Anambra State through the provision of the ramp to ease movement for wheelchair users.

“Sir, indeed you are one of a kind; thank you for this bold step you have taken within short notice in making sure that PWDS in the state have a sense of belonging when accessing this facility in spite of inconveniences.

“We also want to appreciate you for always putting PWDS first in all your programmes. We assure you that in due time you shall be awarded.”

The European Union Rule of Law and Anti Corruption (RoLAC) Project representative standing in for State Coordinator Mrs Josephine Onah, Dr Ifiora expressed his satisfaction at the RoLAC Project on the implementation of the Anambra State Disability Right Law 2018 is now yielding positive outcomes.

“RoLAC has been on ground since 2017 sponsoring and advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities. So, this justifies the money being spent by the EU to sponsor this project is never in vain.

“We thank you for your kind intervention and commitments; l have no doubt that other agencies and MDA’s will emulate you.’’

The Special Assistant to the Governor on Sign Language, who represented the Special Adviser to Governor on Disability Matters, Mr Collins Joseph noted the health sector of Anambra would never be over-emphasised. There was a practical demonstration of how to assist a wheelchair user to use a ramp by Dr. Onyemaechi. (MOI)

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