The reality of disability in Uganda is one of the harshest and most inhumane situations in which a human being can be immersed. On the one hand, discrimination, stigmatization and abandonment by society and, on the other hand, lack of institutional aid aggravate this situation.
1,000,000 children with disabilities in Uganda
There are no official figures in Uganda, but the World Health Organization’s World Disability Report places child disability in Africa at around 6.4% of children under the age of 15, while in developed countries the rate is 2.9%. Uganda is the youngest country in the world, with an average age of 15.3 years. With a total of 16.7 million children under the age of 15, around 1 million children can be considered to have some form of disability.
According to Save de Children, in Africa, disability is mainly caused by preventable diseases. Poor nutrition, lack of prenatal health care, and lack of medical care during childbirth also contribute to disability among newborns and children. Lack of vitamin A in infants can also cause disabilities such as blindness or spina bifida.
Discrimination, sexual assaults and homicides “out of compassion”
Children with disabilities are among the most marginalized in society and their rights are often violated. They are on most occasions absent as recipients in public policies, development plans and poverty reduction programmes, which means that many children with disabilities are relegated to living in extreme poverty and neglect:
INVISIBILITY: These children remain confined to their homes, without going outside, without medical attention, suffering from malnutrition.
ABANDONMENT: Many times these children are abandoned by their parents. Other times it is the father or mother who flees the situation leaving his family. The family member who remains in charge suffers from depression from the burden of a child with a disability.
SEXUAL AGRESSIONS: Children with disabilities are 4 to 5 times more likely to be victims of violence and sexual abuse.
“MERCY” KILLINGS: Lack of assistance, training and institutional assistance lead families to seek “drastic solutions” to this situation. The practice of “mercy” homicides is one of the most common. Under the excuse of avoiding a child from a life of discrimination, confinement, abuse and suffering, families choose to let them die from diseases such as malaria, malnutrition, etc.
All this makes action in the field of disability a humanitarian emergency forgotten by the whole society.