Pakistan new census shows decrease in people with disability because many are uncounted
Representatives of people with disabilities and social activists have termed the latest population census ‘inaccurate’ and urged the government to conduct National Disability Survey to get the actual number of disabled people in the country.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, representatives of disability movement said that the 2017 census carried out by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has failed to count the persons with disability (PWD) despite Supreme Court’s clear orders to make sure that PWD data is collected.
The National sixth Population and Housing Census 2017 estimates that only 0.48 per cent population in the country are PWDs – far less than the 1998 census, which was recorded to be 2.38 per cent. This inaccurate figure would indicate that the ratio of people with disabilities fell by 80%. Yet, approximately 15 per cent of the Pakistan’s population is disabled, according to World Health Organisation estimates.
The speakers said that having an accurate count of the number of people with disabilities is essential to reduce the barriers they face.
“Incorrect counting and underestimates of persons with disabilities further enhances the barriers towards appropriate allocation of resources for their development and empowerment,” said President Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP) Atif Shiekh.
“Census results form the basis of economic management and infrastructure and institutional development, as well as the provision of basic rights, health, education and housing.”
Syeda Munazza Gillani, Country Director of Sightsavers, demanded a national disability survey as per Washington Group of Questionnaire tool which, she said, is the only appropriate solution to count persons with disabilities correctly.
“We anticipate that relevant government ministries and departments will not ignore this very genuine demand of the most vulnerable segments of the society,” she said and suggested conducting a new survey.
Dr. Muhammad Sarwat Mirza, Chief Health and Research Executive Public Health Specialist, HANDS, stated that internationally the concept of inclusive development is being followed to ensure equal access to opportunities for all without any discrimination.
Abiya Sheikh, Chief Executive Officer of National Forum for Women With Disabilities, said women with disabilities face double discrimination in society firstly being a women and secondly for their disability.
Imran Nazir, Executive Director LCDDP, mainatined that concrete figures are imperative for allocation of resources for PWDs at local, provincial and national plans for bring them in mainstream and ensuring them better opportunities to earn respectable living for themselves and their families.
The media briefing was jointly organized by Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP), Sightsavers, HANDS Pakistan, LC Disability and Development Program, Pakistan and Community-Based Inclusive Development Network, Pakistan.