In Zimbabwe, in accordance with the UN Measure which states that 15% of the National population constitutes Persons with Disabilities, therefore, it is estimated that 15% translates to 2.4 million of the total population in Zimbabwe have disabilities. At the same time, persons with disabilities frequently experience a range of barriers that make accessing healthcare difficult. These barriers include lack of physical accessibility of healthcare facilities, lack of availability of services needed, as well as issues surrounding quality of care received. Consequently, persons with disabilities may experience worse access to healthcare services, which is a violation of their rights, as established in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and by the laws of most countries.
Universal access and a barrier-free environment are critical for equal opportunity and independent living in an inclusive society. Accessibility to the physical environment is important for everyone including persons with disabilities (PwDs). Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 under Sections 44, 45, and 46 categorically provides for non-discrimination in transport, non-discrimination on the road, and non-discrimination in built environment, respectively. Zimbabwe is a signatory of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) ratified in 2013 to formulate and strengthen policies, laws, and administrative measures for securing the rights of persons with disabilities (PwDs).These include information, transportation, physical environment, communication technology, and accessibility to all services including emergency services.
FODPZ was subcontracted by Help Age to conduct an accessibility audit of the Bindura Eye Unit using the checklist prepared by FODPZ. This audit and development of the accessibility guide was done in accordance with Article 9 of the UNCRPD which provides for easy access to the physical environment, transportation, services, information and communications, standards and laws by persons with all forms of disability:
Article 9 and 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) ensuring that:
- Persons with disabilities have access to the built environment and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;
- Community services and facilities for the general population both in urban and rural areas are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.
- Persons with disabilities live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life on an equal basis with others.
The purpose of the audit was to promote the implementation and compliance of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities and other relevant national instruments including the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the National Disability Policy and other instruments such as the 16 CBM accessibility standards. Further to this, the audit was aimed at determining the state of inclusiveness of the Bindura Hospital (Eye Unit) to persons with various impairments and other disabling conditions. The audit therefore informs Bindura Hospital (Eye Unit) service providers and surrounding communities to create disability awareness among beneficiary groups in order to accommodate their different needs.
- Coming up with measures which included the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the National Disability Policy and other instruments such as the 16 CBM minimum accessibility standards.
- Encouraging Bindura Hospital -Eye Unit as a service provider to mainstream disability by removing barriers that Persons with Disabilities experience in the built and surrounding environment, information and communication with an endeavor to ensure meaningful inclusivity and accessibility.
- Promoting the meaningful participation of Persons with Disabilities in decision making processes.
- Increasing access by Persons with Disabilities to project outputs such as adequate hygiene, counselling, education, sanitation facilities and clean water.
- Assisting the Bindura Eye Unit management, staff and the beneficiary community acquire skills to confidently facilitate disability inclusion.