By Kesah Princely, in Buea
Persons with Disabilities, PWDs in Cameroon’s conflict-battered South West have expressed anger and frustration after labouring in vain to acquire disability cards from the region’s Delegate of Social Affairs.
Reliable sources revealed to TWIF NEWS that, over 200 applications have remained untreated ever since Bissombi née Dimale Hélène took office over 6 months ago as Regional Delegate of Social Affairs for the South West.
During a meeting chaired by the country’s Minister of Social Affairs, Friday, April 22, to seek solutions to the worries of PWDs who were set to go on protest, Dr. Angoh Kingsly, leader of the Movement of Angry Blind and Visually Impaired for the South West, presented the disability card issue.
Without mincing words, he explained to the Minister that it was much easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than acquiring a single disability card under the administration of the current Regional Delegate of Social Affairs for the South West.
The difficulty, he said, emanates from the fact that individuals are compelled to compile documents more than twice for the acquisition of a disability card which they have not been able to obtain for the past 6 months.
TWIF NEWS understands that, some PWDs often travel a distance of over 100 kilometers away from Buea, capital of the South West region just to have the signature of the delegate on their disability cards, but to no avail.
What Is A Disability Card And How Important Is It?
A disability card is a legal document indicating that a person has one or more forms of disabilities. According to the MISSISSIPPI department of public safety, a disability card is an identification document that serves as proof of a disability, and can be used when verification is needed in order to access certain services, programs, or activities.
The said identification document, TWIF NEWS gathered, has a series of advantages to Cameroonians with various forms of impairments.
School fee exemption, free consultation in government hospitals and security are some of the benefits which PWDs enjoy when they own a disability card.
The document is even more important to PWDs in Cameroon’s Anglophone North West and South West regions where humanitarian intervention is dire, owing to an ongoing separatist armed conflict nearing its sixth year.
To benefit from humanitarian assistance provided by some non-governmental organisations on the ground, a disability card is most times required.
This is testament to the fact that refusing to issue disability cards could mean adding insults to the injuries of many a person with disability entrapped in the prolonged war.
TWIF NEWS learned that, after explaining the difficulties PWDs go through on a daily basis to acquire a disability card in the South West region, Minister Nguene Pauline Irene was bent on changing the narrative.
An inside source at the Ministry of Social Affairs disclosed to TWIF NEWS that, the Delegate has been on fire with the Minister who is struggling to contain a protest announced by PWDs to take place this April 2022.
“The Minister has given firm instructions to the Delegate to treat the files on her table immediately,” the source stated.
A PWD leader in Buea, name withheld, told TWIF NEWS that, the delay to sign disability cards is on claims that the region lacks competent health personnel to issue medical certificates for the document.
The leader added that the said administrator is hardly on duty because she resides in Douala, a city in neighbouring Littoral region, and not in Buea where she works.
TWIF NEWS cannot however confirm the allegations as all efforts to get to the administrator have not yielded any fruits.
After the clarion call from the Minister, PWDs in the South West region, especially those who had applied for disability cards now have a glimmer of hope as they anxiously look forward to possessing their identification document.