Over 25 million Nigerians live with some form of disability. While some are born with disabilities, some acquire disabilities later in their lives. And the prevalence is on the rise, due to the increase in chronic health conditions, natural disasters, accidents, terrorism, and wars. An average person with a disability in Nigeria suffers from discrimination and neglect. For the lack of inclusion and access to social amenities, life remains difficult for people with disabilities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined “Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.”
Disability can range from Mobility and Physical Impairments, Spinal Cord Disability, Vision Disability, Hearing Disability, Cognitive or Learning Disabilities, Psychological Disorders to Invisible Disabilities (Disabilities that are not initially apparent or obvious to others). A single individual could pose more than one of these disabilities, in which case we refer to as Multiple Disability. Some disabilities are temporary while others are permanent. It is worthy of note that no-one is immune to a disability, therefore the need for massive sensitization and awareness creation on the subject.
Though some disabilities have no recognizable cause, there is numerous number of agents that can cause disability. These include Poverty and malnutrition, War, Nuclear accidents, Poor access to health care, Illness, Medicines and injections, Dangerous work conditions, Accidents, Poison, and Pesticides. Corrupt practices, also, could be referred to as a cause of disability, especially in developing countries. Some disabilities are hereditary, these we refer to as Inherited disabilities.
Disability is no condemnation. People with disabilities have achieved greatness and a number of them continue to thrive. In Nigeria, even with the hostility of society, PWDs try to make a life for themselves. Every individual will experience one form of disability or the other in their lifetime. If not permanently, temporarily. Consider yourself a person with a disability for a second, how would you want to be treated by others? People with disabilities are not less human, therefore deserve and desire to be treated equally.
Subsequently, we’ll feature stories of People with Disabilities. Real people, living real lives, impacting their environment notwithstanding their disabilities. The purpose of this is to create awareness and educate the general public on the issue of disability. 25 million is too large a number of people to be ignored. There’s a need to make efforts to include and integrate persons with disabilities properly into society.