Intl. Women’s Day: Group Calls For Inclusive Health Services For Women With Disabilities

By: Prudence Okonna

An international development organization, Sightsavers Nigeria, has called for the accessibility and inclusivity of healthcare services to women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria.

Sightsavers made the call in commemoration of the World International Women’s Day 2023, and paid tribute to women who have been working hard in pioneering access and inclusive healthcare services for women and girls with disabilities.

In a statement from the Communications Unit of Sightsavers Nigeria, the Director of Programme Operations, Dr. Joy Shu’aibu, who oversees programmes to confront the barriers that stop women with disabilities from getting access to health, education, and employment opportunities noted that harsh discrimination are being experienced by women and girls with disabilities in communities across Nigeria.

In her words, “it is a fact globally that women in comparison to men, face barriers in terms of economy, health, access to education, and sources of livelihood. But we also note that women with disabilities will face much more barriers, because they’re the ones who are unlikely to get a good education, and because they cannot get a good education, they set out economically disadvantaged”. 

She added that Sightsavers has placed priority on women and girls, especially under the Inclusive Futures programme, and the programme is trying to mobilise women with disabilities so that they can have a voice and fight for themselves.

According to the Country Director of Sightsavers Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Isiyaku, without action, women will continue to go blind in greater numbers than men and continue to have their contribution to education and employment curtailed. 

Isiyaku remarked that there are many ways in which women are excluded from healthcare and women with disabilities are three times more likely not to access the healthcare they need, compared to men without disabilities.

Isiyaku explained that women are up to four times as likely to develop advanced trachoma than men and are nearly twice as likely to be blinded by this excruciating disease.  

He added that women and girls with disabilities experience a higher risk of violence and abuse and continue to be neglected in sexual and reproductive health policies and programmes.  

Sightsavers has therefore reaffirmed its commitment to work with partners in Nigeria to dismantle the barriers that prevent women and girls from accessing adequate health care and to promote the right to health for every individual, whilst challenging negative stereotypes.