The present administration in Ogun State has reiterated its commitment to empower and provide support for residents with special needs across the State, as a way of integrating them in its “Building our future together” agenda.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker gave this assurance in her welcome address at the opening ceremony of a 4-Day capacity building programme for professionals of Special Needs Schools, organized by the Office of the Wife of the Governor, in partnership with Jesse’s Place Foundation.
Dr. Coker revealed that the World Health Organisation disability report in 2011 puts the number of Nigerians living with disabilities at approximately 25 million people, adding that the State government was aware of the need to care adequately for children and youths with special needs, in order for them to live a meaningful life.
“We are not oblivious to the fact that the responsibility of caring for individuals with special needs may sometimes be herculean with a huge impact on lifestyle, finances and emotional wellbeing’’.
The Commissioner said that the workshop marks the beginning of the government’s focus on the continual empowerment of persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
While appreciating the Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun for facilitating the training of the trainers and caregivers of persons with special needs, Dr. Coker expressed optimism that it would go a long way in creating a more inclusive, accessible, and discrimination-free society for persons with special needs in the State.
In her remark, the Founder, Jesse’s Place Foundation, Mrs. Sola Ogunde said Nigerians should begin to shift their attention to disabilities that were not visible, such as cerebral palsy and autism, saying that many people with such disabilities suffer isolation and consequently mental health problems.
She called on policymakers at all levels of governance in the country to facilitate quality livelihood for children and youths with special needs, adding that the society also has crucial roles to play.