Kralendijk/The Hague- There is slowly but surely more attention for the improvement of the lives of residents on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba living with a disability.
This can be read in a letter to Dutch Parliament, sent out by State Secretary Paul Blokhuis. Blokhuis sent his letter to answer questions from MP’s Van der Graaf and Van den Berg. The MP’s wanted to know how the UN Disability Act would impact residents of the three islands with a disability.
“In various debates, the Second Chamber has drawn attention to people with a disability in the Caribbean Netherlands. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport supports the BES islands in the implementation of the UN Disability Convention. In consultation with the islands, I have opted for a tiered approach, in which the problems are tackled in practice first, before any changes in legislation and regulations are identified” according to Blokhuis.
An Inclusion Platform has been set up on Bonaire, consisting of various care parties that provide care and support to people with disabilities. Approximately 30 houses of wheelchair-dependent residents have been made accessible by the construction of paths, wheelchair access ramps. In the near future, the OLB will adapt another 40 houses. Furthermore, adjustments have been made to the buildings of secondary education, at the airport and at the Government building to increase the accessibility of these locations.
On St. Eustatius, an inventory has been made of the size of the group of residents with a disability and the needs they have. Based on this, the public body is developing an improvement plan. Five sheltered homes have now been built on St. Eustatius and there are plans to build five more sheltered homes. In addition, the technical department of the health center has realized minor home modifications. Further research is being done as to whether a number of people with intellectual disabilities can also live more independently (with supervision).
On Saba, it is mainly examined at an individual level how the independence and participation of a number of people can be improved, such as that of wheelchair-dependent residents. Sccording to Blokhuis adjustments have also been made on Saba by the Public Entity and the hospital.
Blokhuis in his letter also reminds the members of Parliament that the scale of the islands and the local circumstances require a completely different approach than in the European Netherlands. “In the Caribbean Netherlands, for example, there is no public transport, but the number of people with special transport needs is also small. This justifies a more individual approach. This individual approach ensures that people with disabilities can receive the best possible assistance in the various areas in which they may experience obstacles”.
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