ISLAMABAD: With most disabilities being caused by three diseases, a movement was launched on Saturday which calls for greater access to medicine and treatment for these diseases to bring an end to disability in the country.
The Strive Trust in the capital organised a symposium on the eradication of disability to launch their “Vision 2025 – A World Free of Disability” at a local hotel on Saturday. The vision aims at building a virtual network of all stakeholders in and outside Pakistan to help realise its target within eight years.
Dr Nisar and Dr Misbah Ghaus, members of Strive Trust, also launched Project 3-S — which aims at eliminating Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Spinal Cord Injury and stroke — the three most common diseases which impair physical mobility.
“Project 3-S envisions a diverse approach aimed at maximising data collection, influencing policy change and building a virtual network of all stakeholders within and outside Pakistan to help realise its target by the end of 2025,” said Dr Nisar.
Dr Ansar Rajpoot, from the Capital University of Science and Technology (CUST), said that their policy plan for project 3S was to talk about the smaller milestones to achieve larger objectives while keeping a special focus on seeking help from new technologies such as artificial intelligence.
The project also drew support from a host of lawmakers.
Federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Leghari stressed upon collaboration between all stakeholders to make Pakistan a disability-free country.
“We are ready to assist Strive in mainstreaming drugs for addressing spinal cord injuries in Pakistan as a first step to materialise their goal of eradicating disabilities,” he said.
National Assembly Standing Committee on Education Chairman Col. (retd) Amirullah Marwat noted that it was ironic how parliament had completed four years but has yet to do any work on providing rights for the differently abled.
He vowed to table the symposium’s recommendations on eradicating disability to the standing committees on education and health.
“We are all for eradicating disability, regardless of our political affiliations,” said former National Assembly deputy speaker Faisal Kareem Kundi.
Senator Sehar Kamran called for effective policy-making focusing on the rights of the deprived segments of the community.
Ashraf Gujjar, a former candidate for NA-48, demanded that political parties must include rehabilitation of differently abled in their manifestos.
Strive Trust Chairman Yasir Khan shared his motivation behind Vision 2025 and Project 3-S.
“When I tried to talk about bringing the cure to spinal cord injuries in Pakistan, the response was: let China and India copy the formula and then it will be available in Pakistan,” he lamented, noting that there was scant interest in indigenous research for diseases.
Strive also launched its volunteer network along with a mobile application to collect data and to organise an international conference on the eradication of disability.
Dr Anum Rajput, a wheelchair-bound psychiatrist who works at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Muzaffarabad, shared her daily struggle and the motivations she had for continuing.
Later, CUST and Strive signed an agreement for eradicating disability by 2025. The memorandum of understanding was signed by Dr Rajpoot and Abu Bakar Siddique from CUST.
Later, paintings made by various volunteers and students were auctioned to raise money for the organisation.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2018.