Ecuador prioritizes rights in disability policy
President Lenin Moreno spoke at the Global Summit on this issue in London. He highlighted the government program Toda Una Vida, which runs in the country. The disability policy should be framed in human rights and not in the medical approach. That’s what President Lenin Moreno said at the First Global Summit on Disability, held in London.
The President attends this international meeting in which 700 delegates from governments, private donors, private organizations and persons with disabilities participate. In his speech the Head of State said that for a long time the medical approach prevailed, that he believed that disability was a disease, so scientists and doctors were dedicated to finding a cure. “While we have largely overcome these stigmatizing approaches, the medical model is still present in the speech,” he added.
According to the President, it is a situation of discrimination that must disappear, since this group of people has the same rights. “The most important thing is to place disability in the discourse of rights.” In his review he said that when he was Vice President of the Republic, disability was declared in emergency.
The first part of the work, at that time, was a sustained visibility campaign and the Manuela Espejo solidarity mission was designed. Thus interdisciplinary brigades visited door to door people with disabilities, with specialists and technicians in genetics, medicine, nursing, who raised data and statistics. “We combed the country and got a diagnosis of the situation,” he said.
In parallel, technical aids were provided and -if the case required- rehabilitation, labor and educational inclusion, and accessible housing. In addition, a bonus was created for people in extreme poverty with severe disabilities and a high degree of dependency. Another aspect was the delivery of a draft Organic Law on Disabilities, approved by the Assembly and which already has its regulations.
After his term in the Vice Presidency, in 2013, he recalled that the then Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, named him Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility. In that space, he undertook a campaign for member states to sign and ratify the convention and for governments to encourage research and academic training that prioritizes the improvement of the quality of life of the neediest.
“In 2016, Ecuador suffered an earthquake. We work with the International Red Cross, with bodies and agencies of the UN to include people with disabilities as a priority in emergent care, “recalled the President. A housing construction project was also started for the victims with severe disabilities and their families in the affected territories.
In the Presidency
When assuming the Presidency “I found unfortunately that in Ecuador they had forgotten about the work of people with disabilities. Almost everything was dismantled, “said the Head of State. He said that although it was restarted almost from scratch, the solidarity of an entire people was intact and invigorated.
This solidarity is evident in campaigns such as “Have the Right to Vote,” an initiative in which public transport units brought people with disabilities to the polling stations to pay for them. For this reason, Ecuador received the accessibility award at the 2017 International Electoral Awards.
He added that Ecuador four years ago achieved almost full employment inclusion of people with disabilities. Personally adopted the slogan of those who wrote the convention: “Nothing about us, without us.” This is how the National Plan for One Life was born. There are specific programs for each stage of life. And he highlighted the Casa Para Todos program, where “inclusive communities are built in which universal accessibility, equality, solidarity and respect prevail”.
Situation in the country
In Ecuador there are almost half a million people (2.6% of Ecuadorians) who live in a situation of disability, according to the figures announced by the president in his speech at the world summit on this matter.
54,000 citizens receive support at the moment through the mission Las Manuelas.
The work of the mission includes the ministries of Welfare and Social Inclusion, Labor, Education, Health, among others.
15% of the population with disabilities have a job
At the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Xavier Torres, minister of Urban Development and Housing and president of the Council for Equality of Disabilities (Conadis); Raúl Ledesma, from the Labor portfolio; Byron López, of the Paralympic Committee; and Aleida Matamoros, undersecretary of the Ministry of Education, highlighted the speech of the President in London.
Torres stressed that the country seeks to ensure that the disability policy is framed in the paradigm of human rights and not in the medical approach. “Before, disability was qualified as a disease (…) Today we have alternatives in public policies in education, work, health, technical aids, based on law,” he said.
He indicated that in Ecuador there are 65,000 persons with disabilities who are active in employment (15% of the population with disabilities). “For this year we will have 18,000 seats to cover,” he said. On December 3 will be launched the new disability qualification process, built by Ecuadorian doctors and the Conadis. (I)