Moscow Duma discusses Disabled Children
Issues Relating to Children with Disabilities Discussed by Moscow Duma (City Council)
Issues relating to support for children with disabilities and their social integration have been discussed at a special open session of the city’s Public Health Committee. At present there are around 25,500 such children living in the capital according to an authoritative source based in the city department dealing with them. Essential technical requirements are paid for out of the public purse but this falls short of what is needed to promote their social integration.
Professor Irina Siluyanova, head of the department dealing with bio-medical ethics at the Russian State Medical School, said that negative stereotypes held by the public in relation to people with disabilities were disastrous. At one end of the spectrum the least harmful stereotypes revealed indifference. At the other end, the really dangerous ones attacked giving support as being inexpedient on economic grounds. She suggested that work be put in hand to develop a raft of measures for the purpose of combating negative stereotypes.
The producer of the programme ‘What Russians Think’, Yelena Pisareva supported that idea. She thought that people with disabilities should be invited to take part in the talk show, and should feature in serials and entertainment programmes on an equal footing with able bodied people.
Senior cleric Arkady Shatov said that working with families was most important with great effort being devoted to dissuading parents from rejecting children with disabilities. In particular specialist nurseries should be made available for little ones with health issues. He called for change in the way the charitable sector dealt with parentless children saying they should aim at their development and integration and not simply supervise them. Volunteers helping the children out of goodwill and not for payment could change the atmosphere in the residential institutions. Another expert said that the permanent staff working with the children should be professional teachers.
In summing up the outcome of the meeting, the chair of the public health committee said that the discussion had been only the start of a huge amount of work that needed to be carried out in order to create an environment where there were no barriers affecting children with disabilities.
Nikolai Figurovsky (Moscow City Council Press Office) 00 7 (495) 753-71-79