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KINGSTON — Visually impaired persons can now access health and nutritional-related information in Braille, through brochures produced by the Ministry of Health.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Jean Dixon, yesterday (December 6) handed over the publications to

representatives from the Jamaica Combined Disabilities Association; Salvation Army School for the Blind; Jamaica Society for the Blind; and the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities at a ceremony held at the Alhambra Inn in Kingston.

Mr. Spencer said the health sector has an important role to play in ensuring that marginalised populations, such as the visually impaired, have access to critical information. This, he said, is in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which Jamaica is a signatory.

He informed that 146 health workers have been trained in understanding and respecting the needs of disabled clients, including attendants, community health aides, enrolled assistant nurses, orderlies, porters, ward assistants, registered nurses and security guards.

He said the Ministry has also partnered with the Ministry of Education to produce literature/health promotion messages in Braille and has developed a sign language programme for health workers, which will be executed across all four regional health authorities.

According to Mr. Spencer, the Ministry is taking a “right’s approach” to dealing with disabled clients at the health facilities and this includes recognising their rights to equal care; treating them with respect; ensuring that institutions and services can be accessed by them; educating health workers about disabled rights; and ensuring that there are no physical, legislative or regulatory barriers preventing easy access to service.

“I want the customer service personnel in our hospitals to make it their priority to look out for disabled clients, provide ready support for them, and we must find a way to fast track them through the system,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Mr. Spencer said he will be seeking to invite nominations of persons with disabilities to serve on important boards and committees in the public health sector where this is appropriate and there is no legal impediment.

Executive Director of the Jamaica Society for the Blind, Lola Marson, said she was thankful for the inclusive approach being taken by the Government to ensure access to relevant information.

She suggested that the information be placed in CD format so that blind persons, who are unable to read Braille, can also benefit.

                                                           

By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter