Farida Gulamo

This Saturday (December 03) is celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a date established by the United Nations in 1992, with the aim of promoting greater understanding of issues relating to disability and awareness about the dignity and rights of people with special physical condition.

The date is celebrated at a time when the Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS) launched a study on the “Economic and Social Costs of Acquisition of Medicines for People with Disabilities in Mozambique”.

According to data found by OCS, about 33% of people with disabilities do not have access to medicines, and this situation is directly linked to extreme poverty of families, in a context where women, children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.

According to the same study, which was centered in some neighborhoods of Maputo Province and Maputo City, a significant part of people with disabilities are young, aged between 18 and 35 years, representing 8.1% of the universe of respondents (469), especially women.

Read the full survey at:

In an interview with the Citizen Observatory for Health, the representative of the Forum of Associations of Mozambican People with Disabilities (FAMOD), Farida Gulamo, said that there are still gaps regarding the access to health services for people with disabilities in Mozambique, despite some progress.

Among the aspects that need to be improved, Gulamo highlighted the slowness in attendance, motivated by the lack of professionals trained to deal with this social layer. In other words, the National Health System (NHS) does not have professionals prepared to deal with certain disabilities.

“Really, there is still a lot to be done in access to health care for people with disabilities. There are still many gaps in terms of care, for example. Doctors and nurses don’t have knowledge about sign language, they don’t know how to deal with a patient who doesn’t speak or who doesn’t hear”, she explained.

People with disabilities struggle, in their daily lives, with the inaccessibility of health infrastructures, because these lack conditions for the mobility of wheelchair users.

“We saw that most of the health infrastructures are not accessible. The maternity wards do not support women with physical problems to facilitate their care. The centers that do HIV/AIDS testing also mostly operate in containers and have stairs. Toilets are not accessible in the health centers”, she stated.

Gulamo also added that there are no medications in the country’s public hospitals to address specific concerns, such as pigmentation problems, vision (eyeballs).

“There are ointments that must be applied by blind people that do not exist in the market”, she added.

The lack of statistical data regarding the number of patients served, their housing areas, their needs and access to medicines are other constraints that concern persons living with disabilities in the country.

“We are concerned about how to explain to a blind patient how he should take his medicine, for example. If he has no one to help him, he runs the risk of taking the wrong medication. If the doctor doesn’t speak sign language, how does he communicate with a deaf and non-speaking patient to know exactly what kind of illness he’s suffering from? These are some essential aspects that still constitute a great challenge for the health sector”, he emphasized.

She reiterated that “at this moment, we are working with the OCS in the advocacy it has been doing with the Ministry of Health, related to the revision of the Charter of Rights and Duties of the Patient, for the need to contemplate, also, the disabled patient, who has specificities that need to be taken into consideration in any health unit.”

Regarding the respect for the rights of the disabled person, the FAMOD representative said that most of them are violated and the children are the most affected group.

“Children, for example, we know that they have the right to be registered, to have a name, to be able to go to school, to have decent food and proper treatment. Unfortunately, there has not been proper treatment.”

Gulamo said that the violation of these rights can be verified within the family.

Although the convention exists and Mozambique has ratified it, its domestication leaves much to be desired in the country.

“It is not yet properly domesticated. It has been a rather long, lengthy and difficult process.”

According to the activist, some aspects of the convention are beginning to have a differentiated treatment, such as the case of inclusive education, with access to education as a fundamental principle.

“The article 24 is one of those that obliges rulers to take into consideration access to education for all. Although we are slowly achieving this, there is still a long way to go”, she stressed.

In this context, Farida Gulamo left an appeal for the rulers to look at the issue of disability as an integral part of the governmental agenda, because it should be looked at in a transversal way because it touches all sectors of life. “It is not possible to leave any person out, taking into account that we all have the same needs as other citizens, and that we have rights to be respected and obligations to be fulfilled. So, the appeal I leave is that our governments, in their agendas, have to include the concerns of people living with disabilities” Farida. says

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