ISLAMABAD, Dec 03 (APP):Like other parts of the globe, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was also observed in Pakistan on Thursday to create awareness in society about protecting the rights of those who are facing various forms of disabilities.

Various activities were organized by public organizations besides social and civil society organizations in different cities.

This year the UN’s theme was “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”. WHO supported this theme by underlining the importance of fostering an inclusive culture and responding to the urgent needs of people with disability in all aspects of society, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO recognized that a world where all people attain the highest possible standard of health and well-being is only possible if health systems are inclusive of people with disability.

It said that people with disability have been amongst the most vulnerable populations during the current COVID-19 outbreak due to many health, social and environmental barriers, discriminatory attitudes and inaccessible infrastructure.

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to build back better our health systems so that they are more inclusive and responsive to the needs and human rights of people experiencing disability in all their diversity, WHO added.

WHO urged countries to shift towards a service delivery system rooted in the communities, reaching out and empowering people with disability.

“Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security,” said Aamir Sohail Saddozai, President of SAHARA – a volunteer organization working for the health care and rights of persons with disabilities in Dera Ismail Khan.

He said that the commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice but it is an investment in a common future.

Aamir Sohail said that the global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative.

He said that people with disabilities—one billion people— are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities.

“Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. An integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind.”

Aamir Sohail said disability inclusion will result in a COVID19 response and recovery that better serves everyone, more fully suppressing the virus, as well as building back better. It will provide for more agile systems capable of responding to complex situations, reaching the furthest behind first, he added.

He said that the annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

He said that building on many decades of UN’s work in the field of disability, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted in 2006, has further advanced the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international development frameworks, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, the New Urban Agenda, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.

He quoted the statement of UN Secretary-General at launching the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy in June 2019, who stated that the United Nations should lead by example and raise the Organization’s standards and performance on disability inclusion—across all pillars of work, from headquarters to the field.

Aamir Sohail said that no doubt the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy provides the foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the United Nations.

Through the Strategy, the United Nations system reaffirms that the full and complete realization of the human rights of all persons with disabilities is an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, he added.