North West Department of Health marks disability focus month with educational dialogue session

Mahikeng - The realities of those who live with disabilities were brought to the fore during an open dialogue session with persons with disabilities from various communities of the province organized by the North West Department of Health on Friday, November 24, 2017 in Mahikeng.

Themed "Strengthening Self-Representation: Young people building on the legacy of OR Tambo and Friday Mavuso towards sustainable and resilient society for all", the major focus of this dialogue session was to educate and raise awareness on health issues such as mental health, HIV/Aids, gender based violence, to sensitize communities about norms and standards that guide processes aimed at improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities and for them as  persons with disability to make the challenges they face known to management of the department.
One of the attendees is Emely Matsha from Bodibe. Matsha said although they do have challenges as persons with disabilities she was happy to be part of this dialogue session. "I am attending this event for the second time and I must say I am happy about everything. This year’s event taught me a lot. A lot I can relate to. We are affected by most of the things that were discussed here today like abuse and where one can report incidents of abuse. Today it was about empowering us (people living with disabilities) with information and for that I am happy and want to thank the organizers," concluded Matsha.
Another attendee Sophy Maaroganye also expressed her satisfaction about the dialogue.  I want to thank the Department of Health for organizing such an informative event. These kind of events makes me feel happy because I get the opportunity to interact with people with the same condition as mine. What I enjoyed the most was when we were discussing the topic of mental health and substance abuse. I learned a lot from the engagements," said Maaroganye.
In her address during this assembly, the Provincial Health Disability Manager Ms Lucy Tladi said the Department arranged this convention to raise awareness on health issues which affects them as people with disabilities and also to discuss and understand better challenges persons with disabilities are facing.
"This was indeed an eye opening session for many of us. It was a great platform that gave other individuals a better understanding of people with disability, and a great platform for us as a Department of Health to listen to them and make them aware of their rights to access services of government," said Tladi.
The Department has committed to continue partnering with other departments and non-government organizations and to visit established centres caring for persons with disabilities to raise awareness on various health related matters and build capacity.
The period 03 November – 03 December has been declared Disability Focus Month in South Africa. Every year the Department of Health embarks on new initiatives to educate the public, in particular persons with disabilities about health-related disability policies and addressing challenges that affect them ranging from domestic violence, substance abuse, sexual assault, HIV/Aids prevention and their rights to quality health care.

Department of Health, North West Provincial Government
Acting Departmental Spokesperson: Nthabiseng Sebake
Cell: 0788034299 / 0765373087
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