As many as 20 percent of Romania’s people with disabilities do not have a wheelchair, according to a press statement released by World Vision Romania and Motivation Romania.
“According to estimates, about 14,000 people in Romania need a wheelchair annually, out of whom 3,000 with locomotor disabilities do not manage to get one, and they have to live isolated from the community and dependent on caregivers. The main reasons why people in need do not get the wheelchairs are both a low level of information on their rights, long wait times for the county healthcare houses to approve the disbursement of costs sustained for the acquisition of wheelchairs, as well as a short life of chairs compared with the time it takes for their replacement,” says a statement released at the closing conference of the Access project.
For the duration of the project, a total of 2,251 people with locomotor disabilities from rural areas across the country received wheelchairs suitable to their needs and adjusted to their life settings.
Motivation Romania Director Cristian Ispas told the Access closing conference on Thursday that both people with disabilities and their personal attendants were trained in using wheelchairs.
At the same time, 93 wheelchair service specialists were certified.
Access project manager Cosmin Grigorescu said that information and awareness campaigns concerning people with disabilities were conducted in 17 communities in the counties of Dolj, Valcea, Cluj, Ialomita and Vaslui.
“There are communities that did not know about the existence of people with locomotor disabilities; they would be invisible, but the project managed to make them visible,” says Grigorescu.
Last but not least, adjustments were made to 22 households of people with disabilities to accommodate the disabled.
“We have discovered together how big access barriers still are in Romania, from the level of diagnosis to the actual public integration in the case of people with a locomotor disability,” said Daniela Buzducea, executive director of World Vision Romania.
She said the Access project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
Ana Maria Neagoe, representative of the National Authority for Disabled Persons (ANPD), said that this institution has initiated a dialogue with the National Health Insurance House on the development or modification of the framework contract, particularly of regulations on the reimbursement of medical devices such as wheelchairs.
“We intend to develop the Electronic Register in such a way that we can also collect information about the need for assistive technology, especially wheelchairs (…), our and the Insurance House’s intention is to develop wheelchair quality standards in such a way that the disbursement of costs sustained in the acquisition of assistive technology and devices may closely fit the needs of people with locomotor disabilities,” added Neagoe.
Alexandru Climescu, an official of the US Embassy in Bucharest, said that the embassy aims to promote equal rights for people with disabilities, raise awareness of their needs and support NGOs operating in this field.
He added that Romania has an insufficient number of specially designed facilities for people with disabilities.
The Access project has been implemented by World Vision Romania in partnership with Motivation Romania and it ends at the end of June.