Balaka — Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) has called for full inclusion of people with disabilities in the country's day-to-day life including the country's development endeavours.
MACOHA Acting Executive Director, Montfort Mwalija made the call this week Tuesday in Mangochi when he officially opened a five-day workshop on community inclusive development training for Balaka District Executive Committee (DEC).
Mwalija said as Malawi is changing the policy on how she works with people with disabilities, there is need to mainstream disability issues in the day-to-day life.
"MACOHA used to provide the needs for people with disabilities, but as you know we have a lot of people with disabilities and MACOHA alone cannot manage.
"We have been implementing community based rehabilitation (CBR) alone and we want local councils to help us now because what we know is the needs of the people with disabilities can be satisfied in the districts," said Mwalija.
He said people with disabilities face a lot of challenges which range from stigma and discrimination to poor access to services among other things.
"We need to create a lot of awareness for people to accept disability as part of the human diversity," he said.
Guest speaker at the workshop, Hebron Kalasa who is blind concurred with Mwalija, saying he faced numerous challenges as a person with disability.
"I was born able but when I was three years, I was attacked by measles and got blind. As a blind person, I face a lot of challenges.
People look down upon me which limits my capabilities. There is a lot of denial in the society," he said.
Kalasa said though he is blind, he got educated with the help from a missionary Father.
"People thought I couldn't do anything. They used to pull me down a lot but I persevered and got educated.
"Now I am a teacher, I am like other people without disabilities even though many times I face resistance. Many times we are denied leadership opportunities," he added.
District Gender Officer for Balaka, Hanna Nyirenda who was one of the participants hailed MACOHA for organizing the training, saying the country needs to take everybody on board in development regardless of their physical challenges.
"This workshop will be our eye opener, as we heard from the horse's mouth. They (people with disabilities) face a lot of challenges and we need to change in how we look at them.
"Kalasa managed to get educated and now he is a teacher, this simply shows that people with disabilities, if given the chance and support, can also do as we do," said Nyirenda.
According to the World Health Organisation/World Bank (2011) estimates, persons with disabilities represent approximately 15 per cent of any population, but Malawi's 2018 Population and Housing Census indicates that 10 per cent of the population represents those with disabilities.