Remarks by Dr. Pratibha Mehta

UNDP Resident Representative in Tajikistan

December 3, 2020, Hotel “Hilton”, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Dear Mr. Shodikhon Jamshed, Deputy Minister of the Health and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Tajikistan;

Dear Mr. Asadullo Zikrikhudoev, Chairman of Public Organization “National Union of People with Disabilities”;

Representatives of Government Bodies and Civil Society Organizations,

Development Partners,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to be here at the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme “Not all Disabilities are Visible” focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, neurological disorders and cognitive disfunctions, among others  and is a reminder of the importance of removing barriers for all people living with disability, both visible and invisible.  

According to the WHO World Report on Disability, 15 per cent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with disability. Of this number, it’s estimated 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition— and two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and neglect. Moreover, the rate of people with disabilities is increasing due to ageing population and chronic health conditions.

In Tajikistan around 150 thousand people with disabilities are officially registered, 1,6% out of which are children. Many of them do not still have access to education, job and rehabilitation services.

Tajikistan has taken many steps to promote the rights of people with disabilities including signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and recently it adopted the National Plan of Action to serve as a road map to comply with the Convention.   

UNDP has been actively supporting the CSOs working on disability issues to engage in the drafting of the Roadmap which is based on the SDGs and the Human Rights. The voice and role of civil society in policy reforms is very important.  We stand ready to work with all partners to support the implementation and take Tajikistan further towards ratification of the Convention.

UNDP has also been supporting dialogue on improving physical accessibility of people with disabilities through awareness raising in institutions, and elaboration of the Programme on accessible environment,

Despite many positive results, 2020 has been a very challenging year. Pandemic has affected all countries and all people but it has had disproportionate impact on already vulnerable population including people living with disabilities.  

A recent Assessment conducted by UNDP on COVID-19 Impact on Lives, Livelihoods and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Tajikistan revealed impact on all aspect of their lives.  their health care, inadequate means for prevention and treatment; isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and diminished services have greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities. Multi-stakeholder actions need to be taken to ensure that people with disability have access to healthcare and social services, water and sanitation services, social protection and livelihoods.

While social and economic impact of the COVID-19 is clear, the issue of upholding rule of law and human rights remains important especially during such crisis situations. Access to justice of the most vulnerable groups of population, including people with disabilities, women and girls, especially in rural areas might be limited and needs even more close attention. All these challenges require finding new solutions to the problems that have arisen and keeping us up with the times.

In conclusion, I would like to note that UNDP is committed to working with all partners to promote inclusive, equitable and sustainable development of Tajikistan and promote better life for people with disabilities in Tajikistan. We are extensively working to bring disability agenda as high as it is possible and remain committed in continued and meaningful cooperation with all stakeholders. We hope that our contribution will help to ensure that persons with disabilities are given equal access and voice in society, so that they can realize their fullest possible potential.

Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to a productive discussion today!

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