Queen Mother of Dodowa Manya, Nana Yopeyo Dadetsu III, has called on stakeholders including parents, caregivers, special school teachers, pediatricians and others to be advocates for down syndrome.
According to her, ‘mercy-killing’ which was attempted on several innocent children with special needs over the years, was as result of ignorance and it is high time the general public get to know all about down syndrome.
She indicated that mercy-killing were children with special needs are sent to the forest to die, and stigmatisation should be a thing of the past should the traditional rulers, churches, mosques, market places and the entire society be abreast with the condition.
Nana Yopeyo Dadetsu III, made the call recently during a family day out and stakeholders conference put together by the Down Syndrome Ghana Foundation on the theme ‘Accept me just the way I am’.
“My sister has a down syndrome daughter. A Chief told me that your niece does not deserve to mingle among people and left to him, it will be better to go and live the child in the forest. The traditional rulers, and the community have no clue what down syndrome is all about, and therefore awareness creation and advocacy must be an everyday affair,” she said.
She, therefore, pledged to be an ambassador of down syndrome and urged relevant stakeholders to join the awareness creation train to fight for the right of persons with disabilities, especially, down syndrome.
Professor. Nana Akyaa Yao, a consultant Paediatric and Congenital Cardiologist commended organisers for putting together this significant initiative to appreciate, share experience and encourage each other, and to take a step forward to make Ghana and the world know that down syndrome is a disability that can be managed.
She said children with down syndrome are humans, citizens and individuals who can lead fruitful and satisfying lives.
“People with down syndrome can lead useful lives. In the western world, some of them are in schools, employed and are able to do so many things that we are not able to do. We want to take it one step further into our communities so that our communities will know that children with down syndrome can also lead fruitful and purposeful life,” Prof. Nana Akyaa Yao said.
About Down Syndrome Ghana Foundation
Executive Director of Down Syndrome Ghana, Agnes Teiko Nyemi-Tei, said that the foundation is a non-profit entity, with the main objective of creating awareness for the acceptance and inclusion of all persons living with down syndrome while advocating for their right as citizens.
Their vision is to create an environment that enables persons living with Down syndrome in Ghana (and beyond) to improve their lives and reach their full potential.
“We hope to achieve this through awareness creation, advocacy programs, and empowering a community of parents and caregivers that will encourage their wards and relatives living with down syndrome to live full, healthy, and meaningful lives,” she said.
Ms. Nyemi-Tei indicated that the foundation intends to work and collaborate with other like-minded organisations to provide comprehensive care, support, and guidance to families for an individual with down syndrome through advocacy, workshops and training.
She called on government to implement policies set aside for persons with disabilities, including down syndrome, adding that of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, six of the goals which includes goal 1, 4, 8, 9, 11, and 16 directly factors in persons with disabilities, including down syndrome.