International Day For Persons With Disabilities – December 3, 2017

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. []

The recognition of this International Day for Persons with Disabilities is just a reminder to us that our government on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has agreed to carry out and implement measures to protect the rights of persons living with a disability.

Alzheimer’s Jamaica supports the recognition of this International event which includes persons living with dementia who have a disability. Our government recently in 2014 passed the Disabilities Act which addresses persons with disabilities. In the legislation it describes person/persons with disabilities which “…includes a person who has a long-term physical mental intellectual or sensory impairment which may hinder his full and effective participation in society, on an equal basis with other persons.” This in effects means there should be no discrimination when it comes to persons who are disabled.

There are persons living with dementia who are often not treated as persons with a disability when they are persons living with a disease which affects their memory. Over the years Alzheimer Disease International with the support of members and other organizations have been advocating for the International Organizations and governments to recognize Dementia as a National Health Priority.

One of the first steps achieved was getting the World Health Organization to recognise Dementia as a non-communicable disease in 2011. Finally, on May 29, 2017, the World Health Organization adopted the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025. This is now where governments are being encouraged to work with all stakeholders including civil society to implement measures from seven main areas to achieve the targets in 2025.

As a civil society group, Alzheimer’s Jamaica takes this seriously and looks forward to working with the Government of Jamaica in developing a National Strategic Plan making Dementia a National Health Priority.

Today being the International Day for Persons Living with Disabilities is reminding all of us of the need to recognize that our loved ones living with Alzheimer’s Disease have rights which should be respected.