Event Report: Seminars on Systems/Policies concerning Survival "Disability/Society" No.6 "International Development and Support to People with Disabilities"

published: 2015-10-05

On July 25, 2015 (Sat.) the Research Center for Ars Vivendi, Ritsumeikan University organized in the Suzaku Campus the sixth seminar in the “Systems and Policies concerning Survival: Disability and Society” series entitled “International Development and Support to People with Disabilities”.

Prof. Ryoichiro Saito(Visiting Professor, Kinugasa Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University; Executive Director of Africa Japan Forum) gave a lecture on the current tasks faced by the system of medical treatment/support in Africa and the measures conducted to address them.

Firstly, Prof. Saito brought up the issue of divergence of perspectives on development aid and support of the people with illnesses/disabilities in Africa that exists between the specialists and those needing such support. Due to economic development accompanying the current increase of population as well as the development of oil and other natural resources in Africa, there is a growing gap between the “development” and the “aid”. In medical care and support of people with disabilities, which is being promoted with this widening gap in the background, the gap in perspective between the staff of aid organizations, medical workers, and other “specialists” on the one hand and those receiving their services on the other is gradually becoming more and more of a problem. JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) or DPI (Disabled People International) introduced leader training as a way of changing the situation. This leader training for people with disabilities themselves in Africa was based on the achievements of disability movements. It is a model initiative pursued by Japanese organizations such as the Human Care Association.

Next, the lecturer spoke about the problems which came to the fore as a result of activities of the Committee for Assisting and Promoting Education for Disabled in Sudan (CAPEDS). For example, in Sudan, where there is no system of support arranged for people with disabilities, people with disabilities can get hidden by their families and disappear from the society. The lecturer talked about ingenuity concerning how to treat/interact with people with disabilities and their families in order to form lasting relationship. Lastly, the lecturer presented a model illustrating the tasks that came to the fore and the results achieved by concrete measures conducted so far and emphasized the importance of connecting these to the efforts creating support systems toward the future.

In the questions and answers session after the lecture, questions about the measures to address the political and social instability in Africa, difficulties of access to support, and the current state of assistance for people with intellectual disabilities were asked and discussion regarding the tasks and directions of the international support system, which is being constructed right now, ensued.

The seminar was held in truly scorching heat but proved to be a valuable opportunity to look into the support of people with disabilities in Africa. We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the participants and all those, without whose support the seminar would not have been possible.

(Katsunori Watanabe, Eminent Associate Professor, Kinugasa Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University)