Leave no one Behind: Health care inclusion for People with Disabilities in Kongwa District.

People with disabilities face challenges in accessing health care facilities. They often face communication barriers or a lack of infrastructure in accessing health care facilities. Apart from these barriers, negative attitudes toward disability disempower individuals with disabilities and lead to their social exclusion and isolation.

Foundation for Civil Society interventions aim at addressing barriers that prevent the inclusion of people with disabilities in communities and their participation in the community, local government and national policy engagement. In 2021, FCS funded TZS 321,240,000 to 14 organizations of people with disabilities to conduct interventions on the inclusion of people with disabilities in health care facilities in 11 regions. In March FCS conducted support visits-monitoring visits to the organizations to assess the changes implementing partners have brought to communities. SHIVYAWATA, Dodoma was among the organizations visited. FCS considers monitoring a critical learning experience between implementing partners and FCS. The visits also strengthen program relevance and effectiveness ensuring that the partners are accountable for achieving the intended results.

FCS Monitoring ,Evaluation and Learning Manager Guesturd Haule talking with Ibwaga Village Leaders, Village Committee leaders and beneficieries at Iwaga Village Office in Kongwa, Dodoma on SHIVYAWATA -Dodoma’s intervention

SHIVYAWATA, DODOMA is implementing a project namely “Kukuza Haki za watu wenye ulemavu katika upatikanaji wa huduma za afya” advocating for people with disabilities to access quality health care facilities. The project was implemented in kongwa district, in Dodoma in 4 wards and 5 villages. The intervention objectives were advocate for the inclusion of the needs of people with disabilities in local government plans and budgets in Kongwa and improve infrastructures for people of disabilities access to health care facilities.  SHIVAYAWATA was able to engage Local Government authorities can collect data on the number of people with disabilities creating a clearer picture of the number of citizens with disabilities and their requirements. Data collection contributes to decisions about development efforts and poverty alleviation strategies. It is a game changer when it comes to policy, programming, and implementation. Lastly, SHIVYAWATA intervention objective was to amplify and empower the voices of people with disabilities in accessing health care facilities.

The project involved engagement with various representatives of local government authorities in 5 villages, Kongwa district leaders, doctors, clinical officers, nurses, and people with disabilities in Kongwa district.

Through the intervention, change in communities where the intervention is being implemented has taken shape. Disability Committees in 5 villages and 1 kongwa district have increased awareness of the rights of people with disabilities and their right in accessing health care provisions. The committees are conducting their duties as a result of capacity building training received from SHIVYAWATA.

”There are parents who hide children with disabilities because of their lack of awareness of the rights of people with disabilities and because of their negative perceptions. Through the SHIVYAWATA interventions, I create awareness on the rights of children with disabilities. SHIVYAWATA has enabled me to understand and educate community members on the importance of the rights of people with disabilities. I have observed that community members’ perceptions have begun to change. ‘, says Simon Lesilwa, Chairperson of Amani hamlet.

‘Through the project, there are improvements in how people with disabilities are perceived. Parents are now open to sharing with the village authorities about their child with disabilities. Community members with disabilities are also willing to identify themselves and state their disability. Before SHIVYAWATA’s awareness sessions parents hide their children with disabilities. Parents are beginning to realize the importance of the rights of people with disabilities. After a meeting hosted by Shivyawata, the parents sought out us and asked for advice on how to support their children with disabilities’’, says Anania sailoa, a beneficiary.

SHIVYAWATA also conducted meetings in 5 villages with 65 village leaders to advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the health sector and the 2022 LGA budget. Village leaders have stated their commitment to improving the access and provision of facilities for people with disabilities. Village leaders have begun including the people with disabilities agenda in village meetings; including a budget to build infrastructure to increase access of people with disabilities in the village chairperson’s office. Furthermore, in 5 villages in the implementation area, LGAs have begun the collection of data on people with disabilities, based on location, age and the type of disability. 114 people with disabilities have been identified in the villages.

‘’SHIVYAWATA raised awareness on the rights of people with disabilities among leaders and community members. I was among the recipients of the awareness sessions. After the session, we urged people with disabilities in different villages to communicate their needs to us in next village meeting that was held. We have also collected data on the number of people with disabilities. ” says Jonas Kwanga, Ibwaga Village chairman.

He said that he has managed to collect data on people with disabilities in the Ibwaga village and that 59 people with disabilities who have been identified in Ibwaga village in 5 hamlets of Mani, Soweto, Mbuyuni, Mpapala. Jonas is committed to improve  infrastructure for people with disabilities.

 ‘’Our office plan on building a ramp so that people with disabilities can access our office. We give priority to people with disabilities who come to our office to collect the TASAF grant funds’’ he said.

He also said the disability agenda is a permanent agenda in the village meetings .He also said the village meetings are also a platform to raise awareness on the rights of people with disabilities among community members.

SHIVYAWATA conducted awareness sessions with key stakeholders in the health sector. SHIVYAWATA meet with office of the director of the council, the district chief doctor, the department of social welfare, the social services unit and 40 representatives of people with disabilities. The meeting has resulted in the development of plans for the provision of quality care services for people with disabilities through the building of infrastructures that support access for people with physical disabilities.

‘’People with disabilities face a lot of challenges in accessing public buildings. At the dispensary, we are addressing the accessibility of the building and plan to build a ramp for people with disabilities’’ says Michael Ngarya, Ibwaga Dispensary Clinical officer in charge.