On 6th September 2016 NOUSPR, in conjunction with UPHLS -the umbrella body for HIV promotion amongst PWDs of Rwanda under the project “Local Non-governmental Partnerships for Sustained Country Leadership in Rwanda’’ conducted an advocacy event with local authorities in Gatsibo District , Eastern province. The flagship event was the launch of a Health Center and model in accessible facilities. The event was presided over by various local government officials, ministries, embassies and other government dignitaries. The guest of honor was the Director of good governance who represented by the Governor of Eastern Province, Ms. UWAMARIYA Odette.
The day’s activities included a guided tour to the health centre, accessible walk ways, accessible parking for persons with disabilities, ramps and accessible toilets. The participants also toured the ARV services to experience first hand a person with disability accessing medical services without any environmental or communication limitation.
Different testimonies were shared by people with psycho social disability as to how the facility was previously of less use to them as it was not accessible to them, and how it is of more use because of the accessible facilities made by NOUSPR and UPHLS. People with psycho social disability also cited how the service providers, particularly psychiatric nurses are now friendly ,attributed to series of training offered by NOUSPR. The head of health center gave a moving speech on how before it was difficult for persons with disabilities to access the facility and all health service were not used by people with disabilities particularly the psychiatric unit, HIV and AIDS. Some of the services are on the first floor of the building where now people with disabilities reach without any limitation because there is a ramp for physically disabled and wheel chair users. The staff were trained in guidance and techniques of handling people with mental illness. Additionally, there was demonstration of touch tile for the blind and sign language interpreters for the deaf. This leader expressed satisfaction that the centre is now a model in the country as today it is well equipped with the accessible ways and trained staff and people with disabilities are aware, benefit and appreciate the services. In different speeches, the government leaders appreciated the work done by NOUSPR and UPHLS and pledged the will of the government to continue to advocate for such initiatives in other health facilities.
In her speech, Mme. BYUKUSENGE Madeleine who was representing the Governor of the Eastern Province appreciated the work done by UPHLS and NOUSPR as response for the PWDs to utilize the health services delivered in Kabarore Health Center. She recalled the history of people with disabilities in Rwanda where they used not to be thought of or talked about in public; she said how discrimination and marginalization was a norm and culture and how that culture is bad. This politician cited an example of families who used to hide their family members because they are disabled. In the name of the Governor of eastern province she promised to promote the political will to protect the human rights of people with disabilities where they will be treated equally and fight discrimination of any kind that is based on one’s disability. She reminded other health centers in the province to follow the example of Kabarore Health centre.