"My Attitude Towards Persons with Disabilities is Different Now"-Mazza, Ethiopia

WISH2ACTION

The IPPF-led Women’s Integrated Sexual Health, W2A programmme, under the banner ‘Leave No One Behind’ offers quality integrated and inclusive family planning/sexual reproductive health (FP/SRH) services to marginalized and hard to reach populations such as the poor, youth under 20 and people with disability. The programme enhances disability inclusion efforts to deliver high-quality integrated sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services and counselling by working closely with consortium partners to tackle stigma and improve healthcare access for people living with disabilities (PLWDs) both at the national and community levels in the W2A countries.

Ethiopia disability prevalence stands at 9.10% and as such, strengthening disability inclusiveness in service delivery has been a focus of IPPF’s Member Association in Ethiopia -Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia (FGAE) and WISH2ACTION partners in the country -Humanity and Inclusion (HI) and International Rescue Committee (IRC). This work is advanced through context analysis to identify barriers to access for people with disabilities, mapping national-level disabled persons organizations, (DPOs ) and actors working on the theme of rights of people with disabilities as well as training service providers in inclusive SRH (iSRH).

“I am Mazza, a 25 year-old nurse in Gambela. Having graduated from college as clinical nurse, I have been providing family planning/ sexual and reproductive health services at a local hospital. 

For years, I would face challenges when persons living with disability (PLWD) came for health services at the hospital. My greatest challenge was how to best communicate with them in order to understand their health needs and offer quality services. I was particularly surprised when they came for family planning services as I didn’t think PLWDs are sexually active, and that they too need family planning services.

In March 2020, I participated in a training organized by the WISH2ACTION programme. The five-day training was on ‘disability-inclusive SRH service delivery’.

Interestingly, on the first day of training, I took a pre-test and scored 30%. The test was to examine my level of knowledge and understanding of disability and SRH service delivery to this population. However, on the last day of the training I scored 80%! Indeed, I gained a lot of new information and skills during the training. 

From the training, I understood that persons with disability have the same sexual and reproductive health needs as those without disabilities. Additionally, I learned about how to best communicate with them, and how to provide disability-friendly services that can help them overcome the barriers they face in accessing quality health services. 

The training further enabled me to change my mindset about PLWDs, and have an improved outlook about them and their needs. They too have needs and rights that must be respected. Since attending the training, I have developed more interest in issues of disability, and my commitment to ensuring PLWDs receive quality SRH services has been strengthened.

I want to thank the WISH2ACTION project for their work with PLWDs. We will achieve even greater milestones if such training opportunities are availed to all health workers. This will enable them to provide disability-inclusive quality SRH services.”

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