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The Aga Khan University Hospital Pakistan

The AKUH Commemorates International Day for the Disabled

<p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Disabled individuals are not handicapped. They have the health, skills and intelligence to function like any other person in a society and need medical care and social support to stay an active member of the community.</span></p><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">With this message in mind, The Aga Khan University Hospital organized a session highlighting the issues faced by disabled people and the measures that can be taken to help improve their lives. Spearheaded by Dr Mohammad Wasay, President of the Neurology Awareness and Research Foundation, and Professor at The Aga Khan University, the event was held to observe the​ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is celebrated across the globe, every year on 3 December. </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Quoting figures to highlight the prevalence of disability in Pakistan, Dr Wasay said that out of a population of 180 million, 5.03 million individuals have some form of disability. Out of the total disabled 43% (2.18 million) are children, and of those 1.4 million are of school ​going age. Commenting on the participation of the disabled in the society, he mentioned that of the total disabled Pakistani population only14% are engaged in work. Giving a picture on the access of medical care for these individuals, he said that a meager 10% have access to rehabilitation services and only 17% have access to social and educational support.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/>​<span style="font-family: helvetica;">To help the audience understand the perspective of a disabled person, and learn about the challenges faced by them, Dr Wasay invited individuals having some form of disability to speak at the session. Mr. Nasim Uddin, who was born blind, narrated his experience of regaining sight and then losing it again. With an interest in teaching, and as the Chairman of the Pakistan Quiz Society he said that associations for the disabled in Pakistan are not utilizing their potential to the full. He also stressed that children born with disabilities should not be discriminated against and should be given equal educational opportunities. Coming in as the next speaker, Mr Javed Shaikh introduced himself as a paraplegic and said that he sees his disability as part of God’s greater scheme. He emphasized the power of a strong support system and how it helped him progress in his career and his life. He suggested setting up of on online chat rooms that could provide social and emotional support to disabled persons. Mr. Mohsin, who was also a speaker at the session, told how he suffered from paraplegia after an accident. Agreeing with the former speaker he said that disabled persons should not be treated as outcasts and should be considered as normal members of the society. Mr Amir Nizami, who is a multiple sclerosis patient and works in garment manufacturing, helped explain how the symptoms of the disease had unexpectedly set in. He said that it is the will power of any man that helps him to move forward. Introducing himself as a polio victim, Mr Zaheer Ghouri left the audience inspired when he told them that despite being completely paralyzed he drove a rickshaw to earn an honest living. He said that the only functional part of his body were his wrists that helped him control the vehicle.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">After the motivating stories of the special guests, Dr Wasay introduced Mr Ata Muhammad, Assistant Manager, Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation who elaborated upon the rehabilitation services at The Aga Khan University Hospital.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The speakers and the audience applauded the Hospital’s efforts in creating greater access to medical care for the disabled and helping them better function in the society through therapy. ​</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">
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