Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Disabled ‘still underserved’

Disabled ‘still underserved’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Participants make their way through the National Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled yesterday where nearly $1 million was pledged to a rehabilitation and prosthetics program. Vireak Mai

Disabled ‘still underserved’

The Cambodian government has made significant strides towards improving the daily living situation of people with disabilities through the adoption of the National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP), but a lack of proper enforcement, according to some officials, has led to chronic problems that continue to plague the sector.

An example of the improvements made is the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation’s gradual takeover of services provided by Veterans International Cambodia (VIC), an NGO that offeres free rehabilitation and prosthetics to the disabled, said executive director Keo Rithy during a press conference yesterday where USAID committed funding in support of his organisation’s initiatives.

“In the last four years the government has taken an interest in the disability sector, so it’s slowly improving,” he said. “So far, it has taken over 60 per cent of the VIC’s services.”

Established last July, the NDSP aims to “eradicate all barriers” for persons with disability in Cambodia through offering them job placements, increasing their access to health, educational and vocation services, and providing them with special work accommodation.

It also pushes for stricter enforcement of provisions outlined in the 2009 Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“There has been a huge improvement from before,” said Sem Sokha, secretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

“The government has been working very closely with a lot of organisations to provide free services for persons with disability, especially those who are poor.”

The government aims to fully fund and control the programs, which run in VIC’s three rehabilitation centres in Phnom Penh and Prey Veng and Kratie provinces, by the end of 2016.

In the interim, USAID has earmarked $968,000 to run VIC’s rehabilitation and prosthetics program for 18 months.

Rithy, however, that the sector continues to face challenges.

“A big problem is the implementation of the 2009 law,” he said.

“Everything in the law is good, but its enforcement is not 100 per cent because they lack the capacity and budget.”

According to Rithy, the law mandates that persons with disabilities must make up 2 per cent of new recruitment in government bodies and 1 per cent in private institutions.

“But this has not been strictly followed.”

Another problem, said USAID deputy head of mission Julie Jung, is the lack of access to services.

“Many people with disabilities still need job training and a lot of places don’t have the capacity to handle those with wheelchairs,” Jung said.

“They have made a lot of progress in the past few decades but … I think there’s still a long way to go, as with many countries.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National