Haiti President Michel Martelly held a working meeting on Monday with a delegation from Ecuador focused on bilateral cooperation on the issue of disabled persons.
The two sides agreed on several “fundamental points,” according to a statement from Haiti’s National Palace, including the transfer of knowledge about a process of identifying and monitoring persons with disabilities. Haiti’s disabled population, much of which is the result of the earthquake of January 2010, stands at around 800,000 people, according to recent estimates — nearly 9 percent of Haiti’s population. The two countries agreed to an exchange of experiences on the issue of disabilities.
Martelly said Ecuador’s experience in the area would be “beneficial” to Haiti in the areas of special education and inclusive education, among others. Additionally discussed was the development of businesses related to disability, including the training of technicians in the repair and production of prosthetics and orthotics and the creation of workshops for prosthetics.
Haiti and Ecuador each agreed that Haiti needs an investigation into the prevalence of disability in its population, with proposals to contain the problem. The Ecuadorian mission is on a two-day trip in Haiti.
The group, headed by Ecuadorian Ambassador to Haiti Carlos Lopez Damm, will also work with Haiti’s Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities, along with considering other areas of cooperation including training for technicians and the implementation of a system of handicapped-access buses.
According to a report in Caribbean Journal last year, the vast majority of children with disabilities in Haiti do not attend school — a rate of between 5 and 10 percent. That comes against a roughly 70 percent for children without disabilities. Martelly said he wanted Haiti to develop a “real policy” of sustainable management and development for disabled children and adults.