National and international evidence indicates that persons with disabilities live in poor households with limited access to employment, have lower enrollment rates in schools and universities and limited access to social services. Many disability-related supports in the conventional welfare approach are centered on providing basic support without considering the specific barriers faced by them.

Recent studies have shown that such benefits have very limited contribution to overcome deeply entrenched discrimination faced by persons with disabilities. There is a dire need for social protection measures to go beyond welfare approach and establish innovative approaches that avoid dependency and instead promote active citizenship through social inclusion and community participation.

Various studies conducted around this topic clearly indicate that persons with disabilities will never be able to have equal participation in the development process unless they are provided with additional support.

Second, targeting and the accrual cost calculation is another major concern for all social protection programs that aim to provide support to the disabled. It would be nearly impossible for the government to address such a big concern all by itself. Given lack of a credible data system on disability in Pakistan, it is very challenging to determine proper support mechanism. Therefore, the concerned departments should seek help from the agencies working in the field of disability to determine benefit packages and accurate cost analysis for treatment, care and mobility and the targeting mechanisms.

Therefore, only having social protection programs is not enough to eliminate vulnerability and exclusion that persons with disabilities face. As highlighted by the 2011 World Report on Disability, there is a need of complementary programs such as rehabilitation, health, education, training, and environmental accessibility etc embedded with the safety nets.

The importance of mainstreaming disability into the social protection can never be emphasized enough to reduce poverty and exclusion prevalent among persons with disabilities in Pakistan. Social protection measures can contribute to overcome discriminatory barriers by providing additional support that incur by reason of a disability.

There is additional responsibility for the government to provide basic social security to all types of persons with disabilities and work towards reducing vulnerability by enabling greater participation through specific integrated interventions.

By: M. Mobin Uddin (Chief Editor)

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