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Towards a disability-friendly health system

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Gaps in the health care system burden those with disabilities with an added cross. In the backdrop of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities which fell on December 3, we spoke to many stakeholders to push for collective national interventions to enhance the quality of life of those with disability.

by Randima Attygalle

Nisha Shareef from Kandy was born with a rare spinal cord abnormality which left her wheelchair-bound for life. Introduced to rehabilitation at age 11, Nisha’s quality of life improved. Thanks to the vocational training she received through the Ragama Vocational Training School, she learned the art of watch-mending. Today at 50-years, she runs her own business in the Kandy town, her example empowering fellow wheelchair users.

Health challenges for those in Nisha’s shoes are many. Inability to control the passing of urine, catheter and diaper dependency, frequent urine infections and bed sores are among them. Management of all these issues is costly says Nisha who lobbies for a special concession for adult diapers and other medication required by those with disabilities. “Accessibility to public toilets including those at hospitals is a nightmare for us,” she says. Nisha urges the health authorities to have disability-friendly infrastructure at hospitals and to dedicate a help desk and a hotline at least at Teaching Hospitals to assist those with disabilities.

Many young girls and women with mental disabilities and those who are vision impaired left alone at homes are often sexually exploited, she points out proposing a state-supported day-care system to shelter them while their parents or other care givers are at work. This would help ensure their safety.

Having fallen off a rambutan tree at ten, Lasantha Chandimal from Dampe off Madapatha, became paralyzed. Having lost both his parents by 15, Lasantha’s life took a turn for the worse. The Samaritans at the Ragama Rehabilitation Hospital not only uplifted him from a bedridden patient to a wheelchair user but also trained him to maneuver a special tricycle. Lasantha, 36-years old today, has lost his job with the closure of the plastic factory he worked at. His wife, a wheelchair user herself, also worked there.

A spinal cord injury makes Lasantha often susceptible to kidney dysfunction. “I’m a catheter-user and I developed a urine infection during the lockdown which left me helpless with no access to medical treatment. With my temperature running high due to the infection, I called for an ambulance several times to no avail. Finally I had no choice but to scrape my savings and get treatment at a private hospital.”

The absence of special assistance at OPDs, indifference of the support staff and exploitation of those with disability by some, makes matters worse. Improving disabled-health literacy at ground level, improving sanitation facilities for people with disability in hospitals, sensitizing support staff and creating awareness on available help devices are among Lasantha’s suggestions to ease the burden of this community.

Over a billion of people, about 15% of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) have some form of disability. Half those with disability cannot afford healthcare, compared to a third of those without disability. People with disability are more than twice as likely to find healthcare providers’ skills inadequate and people with disability are four times more likely to report being treated badly; and they are nearly three times more likely to be denied healthcare, WHO affirms. The World Bank literature on ‘Disability Inclusion’ documents that ‘many persons with disabilities have additional underlying health needs that make them particularly vulnerable to severe symptoms of COVID-19, if they contract it. Persons with disabilities may also be at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 because information about the disease, including the symptoms and prevention, are not provided in accessible formats such as print material in Braille, sign language interpretation, captions, audio provision, and graphics.’

Translating sensitization on ‘disability and rehabilitation’ into practical reality is urgent, points out Manique Gunaratne, Manager Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon. Manique who lost her vision in her 20s due to Retinitis pigmentosa had no proper local guidance to a rehabilitation system. The overseas doctors whom she consulted empowered her on ICT systems available for vision impaired people. “This has made me what I am today,” says the activist who lobbies for help desks which could offer guidance for people with disabilities and their families to make informed decisions. “Very often when a child with a disability is born, parents have no clue what to do with it. If the medical condition turns out to be disability, they are even more helpless,” notes Manique who also proposes a ‘Priority Card’ on health nee

ds and making disability representation stronger at policy-level within the health sector.

The role of collaboration between doctors, physiotherapists and the beneficiary in determining the best assistive device cannot be understated says H.D. Mala Nandani, Administrative Officer, Rehab Lanka which manufactures s

uch devices. “An assistive device has to be a customized and very often there is little awareness among the poorest of the poor who depend on a donated wheelchair which could very often compound the disability.” The National Secretariat for Persons with Disability provides a stipend for such devices, she adds. The local manufacturing volume of assistive devices should be increased for better availability, notes Mala who lost the use of one leg due to a vaccination mishap as a child. “At ground level, the knowledge of personal hygiene among those with disabilities is very poor; hence there should be a system similar to that of midwives to help the families of the disabled in terms of knowledge and guidance to proper health channels.”

The COVID emergency situation which put the local public health system under unprecedented strain has driven the health authorities to design new interventions including meeting the needs of people with disabilities, notes Dr. Shiromi Maduwage, Consultant Community Physician from the Youth, Elderly and Disability Unit of the Ministry of the Health. “We are now developing a system to reach out to those in need in future emergencies. We have already launched a programme to empower care givers during the pandemic. This is facilitated by the National Secretariat for Persons with Disability.

A system to improve the COVID-related health messages through Braille and sign language is also underway she says. While the state provides a monthly disability allowance, certain gaps in the system including the need for disabled-friendly infrastructure have been identified; and these need to be bridged, says Maduwage. “The elderly population is growing and disability will be an added burden. Community based rehabilitation is already being strengthened by the health sector to mitigate the challenges and ground level officials sensitized though the MOH divisions.”

Upgrading the school curriculum to incorporate health issues of those with disabilities including their sexual an

d reproductive health and safety can help sensitize future health policy makers to 

catering for their needs, remarks Dr. Harischandra Yakandawala, Medical Director of the Family Planning Association and Consultant to the project on sexual and reproductive health during emergencies. “People with disabilities often have barriers in accessing information and we are collaborating with several agencies in addressing this including making online counseling services accessible by victims of gender based violence.” Women and girls with disabilities are the most vulnerable to sexual violence which could result in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, he says citing the need for organized shelters to provide care for young girls and women enabling their caregivers to be productively employed during day time.

Encouraging all parents to “dream for their child” despite odds, Samanmali Sumanasena, Professor in Paedeatric Disability and Head of the Department of Disability Studies, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, urges all partners in paediatric health services to support families with children with mental and physical disabilities. “Research shows that early intervention can make children more cognitively competent and they can be developed into very productive citizens”. In this process, access to correct information, proper referral systems, child intervention services, updated technology for optimum benefits, access to general health care and family support systems are imperative, she says. Training parents and caregivers to routinely intervene to improve their children’s quality of life is important, she points out. Lack of specialists who

 can address the concerns of children with special needs in the country is a major bottleneck in enabling wider reach. The Special Needs Programme which was launched in Colombo District in July to meet this challenge is being expanded to the rest of the island as well, says Prof. Sumanasena.

Rehabilitation which is recognized as a human right by the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, improves the functioning status of people with disability to achieve the highest possible functional outcome, notes Dr. Sachithra Adhikari, Acting Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine from the Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Hospital, Ragama.

“Lack of an established care pathway directed towards rehabilitation following initial treatment of disability, is a major drawback. Rehabilitation services are provided only by a few hospitals which hardly meet the need.” She goes on to note that the need to generate awareness on the importance of rehabilitation and its cost benefit both among the healthcare professionals and the public is urgent. Drawing attention to limitations in available rehabilitation personnel and infrastructure, she said the lack of coordinated service provision, leadership for financial and administrative support required for rehabilitation service are problems that need addressing. Also, social acceptance of those with disabilities rather than mere sympathy is important together with sensitivity to their plight.



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The Boss Up Story

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Boss Up isn’t merely a brand name. It’s a manifestation of resilience and inner power in the form of a branding and social media marketing agency. Hafsa Killru, the Founder of Boss Up has a personal story and determination to ‘boss up’ that propelled her to launch her own venture to empower entrepreneurship, especially among small businesses.

Beginnings

The environment one grows up in has a remarkable effect on a young child’s mind. Watching two strong women in the family redefine the role of feminine power, a young Hafsa grew up ambitious too. Although brimming with the desire to create a change, her childhood was fraught with challenges that plague many children today – bullying. She was subject to severe bullying since the tender age of 10 at her places of education, which affected both her mental and physical health.

“I never fit in anywhere. I was never welcome among the cliques. But I didn’t let it affect my confidence. Keeping my circle small helped me stay focused on my studies. I’d spend this time alone in school libraries, often reading encyclopedias,” says Hafsa. “The bullying worsened in my teenage years. I was lonely but it worked out in my favour because I was never, and still not, someone who worries about ‘what will others say’ — a key obstacle in many people’s lives. Not having many friends meant I was not under peer pressure. This allowed me to be my authentic self.”

Hafsa’s writing career began quite unexpectedly when she was 17. Not only is she a content writer but also a poet who writes evocatively about mental health, healing and empowerment. But this didn’t come by easily either.

During her higher studies, those she considered to be her friends tried to crush her growth mindset, which eventually took a toll on her. It was only when she managed to remove herself from such environments did she become more self-aware and regain her confidence, thanks to the solitude it brought into her life.Yet again, a new set of obstacles awaited her in her early 20s. In 2019, she was turned down by over 20 companies within three months alone, which led to deep frustration and self-doubt. Although she had freelancing opportunities, the lockdown only added to her troubles.

But that’s when something clicked into place – an idea so obvious, so big and so right for her that Hafsa knew it was what all these adversities were pushing her towards. She realised the lockdown was putting undue pressure on businesses and it needed a solution. Especially small businesses were struggling to go online and create a sustainable brand, and that too at an affordable rate. How could they compete with incumbent brands with massive budgets and breakthrough technologies? She sought to give them the edge they needed and thus, Boss Up was born in October 2020.

“Inviting change, taking charge of the situation and choosing to do something on my own has to be, although scary, the most liberating decision I have ever made,” admits Hafsa. “The lockdown wasn’t the time for businesses to go silent. They needed business and marketing solutions that would help them overcome the situation.”

In today’s contemporary business world, a business of any size will only be running a losing race if it hasn’t developed a strong social media presence or a clear brand strategy. Hence, Boss Up ensures equal opportunities are given to entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

One and a half years into the business, Boss up is now global with its wings spread across countries like the UK, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, the Maldives and Australia, and is backed by a strong team of young and passionate minds.

The Purpose

Boss Up’s primary goal is to uplift entrepreneurs. The brand is also a strong advocate for inner power, confidence and resilience — the three main driving forces of ambition. It intends to help people who hail from struggling backgrounds; the ones who are inundated with a lack of support, seek self-sufficiency and are hungry to design a unique identity for themselves.The brand also strives to treat everyone at work with compassion and empathy whilst leading with kindness as it is crucial to reform work cultures that are hazardous to oneself.

Reach out to HAfsa via Instagram @hafsa_killru @bossup_srilanka or email bossup_srilanka@gmail.com.

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The Switch of Trend in Fashion After the Pandemic 2022

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There has been an immense change in the Industry of Fashion after the pandemic struck us all hard. Currently, the trends of fashion have also taken a big turn towards affordable fashion trending styles and outfits. The Fashion boom has grown to become steadily slow for the seasonal styles and basic needs of clothing as well.

The current scenario of fashion life is always at a peak, and even after the Covid-19 pandemic, we have still seen slow growth in the need for fashion. There are of course certain aspects that have affected the industry and declined surplus. However, fashion and clothing have become a BASIC need for humans across the globe.

From shopping high-end couture to higher brand apparel, the trend has shifted to move on to sustainable clothing and organic clothing pieces. For example, we have become more aware of locally produced clothing brands and organic fabrics of our country. Made in India clothing and brands are emerging at a higher graph.Let’s take a look at the Current Change in Fashion Trends due to Pandemic 2022

Sustainable Outfits After the Pandemic

This is something most have been finding a basic need in clothing. Spending over and over again on the same kinds of clothing has and will reduce in the future. Buying clothing and fashion pieces that last for longer is the key to saving more than before. Buying pieces like basic Tees, Pants which may be styled over and over again is what the trend is shifting towards.

Budget Range of Fashion Brands are Accepted higher

Since the ban of Rowme and Shein-like brands and online websites in India, other national brands have started to make affordable fashion pieces for their customers. Styles and trends of fashion in the budget are what the people will be looking out for since the economic growth of people has dropped. Investing in fashion will never end until there will be a supply, the only difference is the budget range brands have a huge change of acceptance now since the pandemic.

Change of Styles worn to Work or Office Fashion after the Pandemic

Since the depression, people may have just stopped feeling happier may want to take the effort to dress like before. Styles of fashion in a simple and classy fashion will emerge largely than before. Choosing Plains or Solids overprints and pattern or neutrals over new trending colors and the print patterns is being seen for workwear fashion.

Change of Trends and Styles for Indian Festival Wear after the Pandemic

In the same way as the above point mentions, dressing special occasions will take a shift. Looking at the financial conditions currently, customers will be buying lesser for Festive wear than before. Styling the same pieces with a change of new additions of budget festive wear will be trending. Sarees and salwar suits in silks, choosing cotton, and linen kurta sets over the designer trends are to be seen this year during Indian festivals.

Choosing Budget Wedding Wear Over Designer Wedding Wear

When it comes to weddings, the cost goes to the highest for any customer. But the pandemic has changed how weddings will be taking place. The cost of weddings has declined drastically and shopping for Indian weddings has grown to choose mid-range wedding wear over high-end designer wear. Saving more during weddings, styles of lehengas, sarees, shalwar suits, or sherwanis for weddings that are in mid-range is a new trend.

From styling men’s kurta suits styles for the basic function of weddings to choosing classic or budget range sarees and suits for the bride’s ceremonies will take up a new fashion trend look. Making a choice of ONE heavy wear Lehenga and Sherwani may be what the soon-to-wed couples be looking for.Designer wear which can be restyled or reused and worn for other occasions and weddings is also a trend to grow rapidly. Saving much more for the bridal and groom’s outfit looks.

Shopping Online Increased for clothing after the Pandemic

The safer way to buy clothing has become a focus for all customers going towards online shopping. The percentage of online buyers has rapidly increased for clothes after the pandemic. From casual wear shopping online to fashion shopping for festivals and weddings, all have become much easier and more convenient for consumers.

Websites and businesses are working to grow even wider with Online Shopping. Connecting with customers personally for their shopping experiences to taking a new addition in budget clothing varieties for the customers is what’s taking place.

Online shopping has become a trend We have set an all-new trend for our customers It brings more trust and safety to customers. Shopping for wedding wear online only gets comfortable for all when sitting back home and shopping Fashion Shopping after the Pandemic via on-line shooping is what keeps all customers happier.

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Captivating streetwear for today’s fashionable girls

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The latest street fashion brand Girls by Dillys under the umbrella of Dilly’s was launched recently introducing trending new pieces to help girls carry the distinct personality and style to be the fashionable girl of today.

Girl by Dilly’s is a creative street fashion brand that focuses on vibrant colors, textures, and prints to bring out the youthful exuberance of today’s girls. The brand has emphasized on contrasting color combinations. The ethos of this brand is creativity and having fun. Girl by Dilly’s is dedicated to the free-spirited girls who have their own super powers and a bold attitude. Girls are encouraged to mix and create unique styles to introduce their own identity in a creative and playful way.

This brand is the new lifestyle for confident girls who love to enjoy freedom, youth and individuality. The brand has different style combinations from casual to evening wear to make the overall look fashionable and completely their own. The brand tagline ‘All about a Girl’ is a reminder to every girl that she is unique and beautiful.

To ensure glam and comfort, all Girl by Dilly’s products are crafted using quality fabrics and technical know-how. The brand offers a wide range of stylish ready-to-wear pieces, from tops, skirts, pants, shorts, dresses, rompers, jump suits, crop tops, and t-shirts. The brand has introduced batik into the collection with a fabulous finishing touch to elevate its signature styles. The brand is also introducing a comfortable t-shirt collection with inspirational slogans and line art to share a positive message with society.

Dilani Wijeyesekera – Director of Girl by Dilly’s stated, “We became aware of a notable gap in today’s market for fashionable streetwear clothing for girls. Today’s new generation of girls have a different youthful energy about them. They are fun, bold, carefree and energetic and they want the whole world to see that. Girl by Dilly’s is perfect for such girls as it helps them find their own identity through our collection of vibrant colours and creative styles that they can mix and match to come up with eye-catching outfits. Every piece of Girl by Dilly’s has the look and feel of fun and vibrancy.”

With the launch, Girl by Dilly’s is providing an introductory offer to all loyalty customers where they can avail themselves to a 15% discount on all products until 7th August 2022, both on online and at the flagship store. A selection of special giveaways has also been lined up in the coming weeks for all social media followers.

For the latest Girl by Dilly’s updates and new releases, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok using @dillyandcarlo. The latest Girl by Dilly’s collections are available at the Flagship Store on the website www.dillyandcarlo.com.

Dilly’s was established in 1987 to cater to Colombo’s desire for high-end designer wear with a local twist. As the company grew, Dilly’s introduced its second brand to the market, this time to cater to menswear. Carlo was established in 2007 and exemplified stylish men’s clothing for all ages. The brand is housing its distinct designer ranges to cater to the entire wardrobe requirement of modern men and women.

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