THE AVAILABILITY OF ASSISTIVE DEVICES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES (Survey in Namibia)

ABSTRACT
This bachelor’s thesis is a part of a development and co-operation process associated with Finnish and Namibian municipalities Ondangwa, Lempäälä, Keetmanshoop and Kangasala: Partnership for Local Democracy & Development and Social Innovation (PLDDSI). The purpose of this study was to survey the Namibian legislation regarding assistive devices for people with disabilities and how the legislation was implemented in daily living. The objective of this study was to produce a written report for the thesis’ partner in co-operation, the municipality of Lempäälä, about the information gathered through interviews and observations in Namibia. This information will be beneficial for the future development work in Namibia.

The basic method that was used in this study was theme interviews. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative methods of research. The process started in the fall of 2011 by data acquisition, and the field work in Namibia occurred in the spring of 2012. During the field work we interviewed different groups of professionals that were associ-ated with assistive devices in Namibia.

Based on our research it is clear that the implementation of the legislation about assistive devices does not function properly in practice. The problems occur in various areas, for example in the availability of wheelchairs and in the number of maintenance ser-vices for assistive devices. The situation with children’s assistive devices is clearly the worst. The problems are partly a result from the centralization of the services to the cap-ital city, and because of the difficulties in co-operation between the government, regions and municipalities. This hinders the chances for people with disabilities to have an ac-tive role in society.

Namibia will benefit from a local company that would be manufacturing and repairing wheelchairs. In the northern region of Oshakati there is a Norwegian funded Local Re-habilitation Workshop (Lorewo) that is manufacturing wheelchairs, but its supply does not cover whole Namibia’s demand. A local wheelchair company would create jobs for Namibians and it would make it possible to design wheelchairs that are specifically made to function in Namibian environment. The implementation of the legislation must also be developed and more financial resources should be arranged for it. However, Namibia has been independent only for twenty-two years, and the development of a nation, including the implementation of legislations, is a long and slow process.

Key words: assistive device, disability, legislation, Namibia, wheelchair


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 INTRODUCTION
            1.1 The background of the study
            1.2 The aim of the study
            1.3 Methods and research tools of the study
            1.4 The themes for the research questions

2 NAMIBIA
            2.1 Facts about Namibia
            2.2 The relationship between Namibia and Finland
            2.3 People with disabilities in Namibia\

3 POLICIES GUIDING THE AVAILABILITY OF ASSISTIVE DEVICES IN NAMIBIA
            3.1 National Disability Policy in Namibia (1997)
            3.2 National Disability Council Act (2004)
            3.3 Motor Vehicle Accident Fund Act (2007)

4 RESULTS
            4.1 The legislation and its implementation
            4.2 The availability of technical devices
            4.3 The quality of assistive devices
            4.4 The equality between different groups of disabled people considering the availability of assistive devices
            4.5 The professionals working with assistive devices
            4.6 Other matters that came out during the interviews

5 CONCLUSIONS

6 RECOMMENDATIONS

7 DISCUSSION
REFERENCES

APPENDICES


1    INTRODUCTION

’’ The only disability in life is a bad attitude’’ –Scott Hamilton

An assistive device enables versatile activities and therefore increases the participation, independence and independent initiative of a person. For some people the assistive de-vice makes it possible to meet certain tasks that were previously impossible for them. Furthermore, the use of an assistive device simplifies the work of the people tending the person with disabilities (Salminen 2010, 17.)


Personal mobility is an essential requirement to participating in many areas of social life. It is also a precondition for enjoying human rights and living in dignity. It also as-sists people with disabilities to become more productive members of their communities. For many people, an appropriate, well-designed and well-fitted wheelchair can be the first step towards inclusion and participation in society (WHO 2008, 7.)


The World Health Organization (2008) also states that ‘’when the need is not met, peo-ple with disabilities are isolated and do not have access to the same opportunities as others within their own communities’’. The provision of assistive devices, such as wheelchairs that are suitable and fit for the purpose, not only improve the mobility but also open up a world of education, work and social life. The essential next steps would be developing the national policies and increasing the opportunities of training in the design, manufacturing and supplying of assistive devices (WHO 2008, 7.)


This thesis was initiated by Tuula Petäkoski-Hult and Timo Palander, who are working in the Ondangwa-Lempäälä-Keetmanshoop-Kangasala  Partnership for Local Democ-racy & Development and Social Innovation (PLDDSI). Their contribution to this work has been considerable. They have provided us the necessary background information and the possibility to travel to Namibia to carry out the studies for this thesis.



The aim of this co-operation was to produce a report for the PLDDSI on the availability of assistive devices for people with disabilities in Namibia. The aim was also to produce information for future development work to build up more effective way to deliver as-sistive devices for adults and children with disabilities in Namibia.


1.1      The background of the study

In 2007, two Finnish and two Namibian municipalities started a partnership called Ondangwa-Lempäälä-Keetmanshop-Kangasala – Partnership for Local Democracy & Development and Social Innovation (PLDDSI). This collaboration is funded by the North-South Local Government Co-operation programme coordinated by the Associa-tion of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.


The Programme objectives have been harmonized with the official multi-dimensional general objectives of development co-operation policy, the most significant of which are the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and gender equality. In ten years over 15 Finnish municipalities have joined in the Programme (Local and regional government Finland, 2012.)


This survey is a part of the development and co-operation process associated with this partnership. This study was initiated by Tuula Petäkoski-Hult, who contacted the De-gree Programme in Physiotherapy in Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The pro-cess started in the fall of 2011 by data acquisition, and the field work in Namibia oc-curred in the spring of 2012.


1.2      The aim of the study

The purpose of this study is to survey Namibia’s legislation regarding assistive devices for people with disabilities and how the legislation is implemented in daily living. The objective of this study is to produce information for future development work to build up more effective way to deliver assistive devices for adults and children with disabili-ties. This information will be written in a report that will be handed out to PLDDSI.

Earlier studies and the conversations with Timo Palander and Tuula Petäkoski-Hult (2011) indicate that the legislation concerning the assistive devices for people with dis-abilities in Namibia does not function properly in practice. ‘’If the aim is to support dis-abled people to be active actors in the society there is a need to develop the possibilities to get suitable and usable technical devices for all.’’ (Petäkoski-Hult 2011, 15).

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 57 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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