Disabled participants Sainimili Naivalu and Tetei Tabeibeti of Kiribati after the opening of the second Pacific CBR forum in Nadi.
PACIFIC governments need to invest more funds towards building inclusiveness and providing access to services for people living with disabilities.
Speaking to the media at the second community-based rehabilitation forum in Nadi yesterday, the technical leader at the disability and rehabilitation unit for the World Health Organization, Pauline Kleinitz, said more awareness should be created at the grassroots level.
“The barriers people with disabilities experience is not just physical, but often to do with negative attitudes as well,” Ms Kleinitz said.
“Lack of access to services, distance and costs also remain a vital issue. We need to build leadership and capacity to develop community-based rehabilitation programs and increase that collaboration between government agencies and NGOs.”
Ms Kleinitz said negative attitudes and underestimation of what people with disabilities were capable of was still common.
“In the Pacific, we do have some specific challenges which relate to the costs of service deliveries, increasing rehabilitation across the many islands and vast geographical areas and more expensive travel,” she said.
“I think often the health and rehabilitation of people with disabilities is often underprioritised and we really need Pacific governments to look into this.”