Philipsburg – Acting Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (Ministry VSA) Egbert J. Doran applauds young St. Maartener Mr. Stevie Constantin on his initiative to draft a Disability Act to guarantee the rights of disabled persons in the country.
Minister Doran said sadly that disabled persons in the community are often times overlooked and the draft is a very positive step in addressing many of the deficiencies that exist, in order to enhance the lives of disabled persons.
“I am very proud for this young man for taking the initiative to address this very important subject in our community. We have a responsibility to put mechanisms in place to ensure that the needs of persons who are disabled in our society are catered to, so that they can have an opportunity to live their lives as best as possible, and it is only by addressing their needs that this can be accomplished,” said Minister Doran.
“It is important that the disabled have easier and unrestricted access to public places, such as banks, government offices, supermarkets, health care facilities and any public establishment that they need to visit. For too long, this issue has remained unaddressed and the least that we can do is to continue to develop this draft in the interest of the most vulnerable in our society.”
Mr. Constantin developed the initiative during his internship at the Department of Education in 2018. During his internship, he provided support with the vision for Secondary Education and Special Needs Education policy. While working on the latter, it was discovered that there was no legal foundation to upport Special Needs Education and as a result, he took the initiative to start a draft for a proposed disability act.
The objective of the Act is to secure the rights of disabled persons, and thereby promote for them equal opportunities, independent living and active participation in life (Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2019). The Act also seeks to protect and promote the equal enhancement of fundamental freedoms and human rights for all persons with disabilities and to encourage respect for their inherent dignity.
Some of the main points highlighted in the draft are the following:
- All persons with disabilities are provided with the same scope, quality, and standard of free and accessible health care and programs for others, including sexual and reproductive health programs, and public health programs for the population.
- The prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities in providing medical and life insurance, where national legislation permits such insurance, which shall be delivered fairly and reasonably.
- Persons with disabilities have access to indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and places of work.
- Private entities which offer publicly accessible facilities or services take all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities into account.
The draft is still a work in progress, as additional research is needed and it also requires the input and relevant data from other ministries.
Mr. Constantin recently graduated from The Hague University of Applied Science with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Public Administration. He intends to return to St. Maarten within short.
Minister Doran wishes him well and encourages other young dynamic St. Maarteners to follow suit in contributing towards St. Maarten’s overall development and the development of its people.
As of Thursday, November 28th, 2019, a new Minister will take responsibility of the Ministry of VSA. Minister Doran intends to discuss this draft act with his incoming colleague and hopes that she will look into the possibilities of taking this draft Disability Act further. He welcomes his incoming colleague and wishes her all the best in working in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten.