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National Policy on Care for People with Disabilities

The Government of Botswana, a few years after attaining independence began to gauge the need for helping people with disabilities. In the early 1970s' the Government commissioned a study on different disabilities that were prevalent in the country in order to analyse the situation.

The Ministry of Health in response to the findings of the above mentioned project, and realising the need to provide service, introduced the Special Services Unit for the Handicapped (SSUH) in 1975. The SSUH has now been developed into Rehabilitation Services Division under the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Education was also supplemented by the introduction of special education concepts while formulating education policy in 1977. These concepts have now led to the establishment of the Special Education Division, which has been set up for planning and overseeing education of people with special needs The Ministry of Local Government lands and Housing established the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development in the early 1970s. The services delivered by the department, although not specifically aimed for the disabled persons, benefit all who are in need- The Ministry of labour and Home Affairs, since 1992, has taken over the Division of Culture and Social Welfare from the Ministry of local Government, Lands and Housing. The Division involves itself in the provision of social welfare services to the whole population, including people with disabilities in co-operation with the Local Authorities.

The Consequences of Disability

Some effects of disabilities occur immediately after the onset of the disability, and some may be far reaching and long term. The bad consequences affect not only individuals but also their families, their community and the society as a whole.

The following are some of the consequences that individuals with disabilities may suffer from. The person is likely to:

  • find it difficult to move, see, hear, feel, think control themselves or do certain things;
  • may or may not regain abilities/functions with or without treatment/training;
  • lose his independence and become dependent upon others;
  • lose social integration.
  • live in poverty and with a poor quality of life.

Disabilities will have far-reaching consequences at household and societal levels. These will induce: - the need for care by the family will be increased; - social relationships will be disturbed and the family structure may disintegrate; - economic burdens on families may lead to poverty; - low socio-economic level and low education lead to less development and lower productivity in society; - the demand for care by the society/state will be increased

Multi-Sectorial National Policy

The purpose of the Policy is to guide these parties interested in disability issues, in order to involve them in the process effectively. Because of the varying degrees of involvement of the numerous actors within disability care, it is necessary to set an overhead policy objective.

The principles of the Multi-Sectorial National Policy are:

  • Recognition and protection of the human rights and dignity of every individual.
  • Participation in the basic entities of society – the family social grouping and community – is the core of the existence of the human being.
  • To strive for a self-sufficient society through the formation of an environment within which all peoples, including those with disabilities can develop their abilities to the fullest possible extent
  • To ensure that the person with disability has a responsibility and a right to determine his own well being.
  • To ensure that the care, socialisation and education of the person with disability in the family context are set objectives.
  • To ensure that the integration of the person with disability into society is actively promoted.
  • To recognise that care of people with disabilities is a continuous process requiring more family participation, community involvement and less institutionalisation.
  • To ensure that equal opportunities of all members of society are aimed at, but will vary according to the needs and abilities of the individual.
  • To ensure that the care of people with disabilities is to be effectively co-ordinated, in a spirit of co-operation and beneficial interaction