Deputy Health Minister Dr Gwen Ramokgopa says South Africa is maturing in terms of its capability to accommodate and provide for children with disabilities.
"We are all obliged to respect their rights. If we believe that our humanity is important to respect, how we treat [people with disabilities] shows how we really value human dignity," Ramokgopa said.
The deputy minister was speaking at the handing over of much needed medical equipment by Mediclinic to a school for disabled learners with special needs in Pretoria. The equipment will help the school to address the unique needs of learners.
Before the donation, the school only had basic medical equipment and faced challenges when learners required urgent medical care, such as when a learner had a respiratory attack and had to wait for an ambulance to take them to the hospital. With the new equipment, which includes oxygen tanks, the nurses at the school are now able to treat learners without taking them to hospital.
Integrate disabled learners
Speaking at the Pretoria School for Cerebral Palsied, Physically and Learning Disabled Learners on Wednesday, the deputy minister encouraged an integration of learners with disabilities into the main education system.
She appealed to communities to take an interest in what happened in the lives of children around them, adding that learners should make use of the services offered by government to people with disabilities.
"It's important to realise that the department has extended community service therapy."
The equipment donated by Mediclinic cost around R200 000.
Director of Government and Industry Affairs at Mediclinic Southern Africa, Dr Nkaki Matlala, said the hospital recognised the culture of care in the school and believed in giving back to the community it served.
"We believe that even as a business, quality health care needs to be accessible and affordable ... diseases don't choose whether you are poor and we have to work together to overcome this," Dr Matlala said.
Patron of the School Sybil Matlou said the goal of the school was to provide education to maximise the potential of each learner and to teach them social skills. She said the school aimed to optimally utilise and develop physical and intellectual abilities through a personalised programme.
She encouraged the school's management to continue with the good work they were doing and never "stop knocking so that the door can open".
"We wish to have a bigger donation so that we can have at least 200 learners in the boarding school. Currently, the school accommodates 364 learners, ranging from three to 18 years of age, of which 104 are in the hostel and about 30 taxis transporting learners in and around Pretoria," Matlou said.
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