Nearly 1,500 persons with disability (PWDs) and senior citizens across the Bangsamoro region are set to receive wheelchairs, crutches, and walking canes from the Ministry of Health of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MOH-BARMM).
In a statement, MOH Minister Amirel Usman stressed the need to extend assistance to the PWDs and senior citizens being part of what he described as vulnerable members of society.
“Hindi natin sila pwedeng pabayaan (We cannot leave them alone),” Usman said, adding that their special needs do not hamper their contribution as productive and functioning members of society.
The regional health ministry said a total of 31 PWDs and senior citizens from the towns of South Upi, Pagalungan, Parang, and Datu Odin in the province of Maguindanao received mobility assistive devices during the turnover program on Tuesday, Feb. 9, in Cotabato City.
It added that it also allocated 197 wheelchairs and assistive devices for each of BARMM’s five provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and two cities of Marawi and Lamitan.
One of the recipients, Brian Tenorio, who has legs paralysis due to polio since he was seven years old, expressed his gratitude as the wheelchair he received will facilitate his mobility and help in his functions as an information officer of his barangay.
“I thanked BARMM for not abandoning us, and I hope you will continue to help those like us with special needs,” Tenorio said in Filipino.
MOH’s Non-Communicable Disease cluster head Dr. Ehsan Paudac noted that there are at least two million people who live with disability in the Philippines and 80 percent of whom are experiencing some difficulties.
“Unfortunately, PWDs have poorer health outcomes, lower educational achievements, less economic participation, and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities,” Paudac added.