Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PWDs assert their right

20% discount on medicine

and Accessibility Law implementation

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 10% of given population has disabilities. In Philippines, with around 90 people, an estimate of nine million Filipinos affected with some form of disability. While 90% of this 9 million are poor and 80% of them are living in the rural areas where programs and services are not available or are inaccessible due to the prohibitive cost.

Medicines are vital to the day to day existence of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) including children with ADHD, autism, seizure disorder and other developmental disabilities who rely on their daily maintenance to stabilize their condition. Cancer survivors with resulting impairment consume daily doses of medicines.

In 2006, Republic Act 9442, an amendment to RA 7277, known as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities mandates all drug stores and pharmacies to provide 20% discounts for every purchase of medicines similar to that of the senior citizens. It has been more than a year since the Department of Health issued Administrative Order No. 2009 – 0011 that mandates the full implementation of this law. However, to this date the Drug Store Association of the Philippines (DSAP) led by Mercury Drug Corporation (a company operating more than 450 drugstores) continuously violates the aforementioned law. Only Watson complies with the law.

The RA 7277 is an act providing for the rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of persons with disabilities and their integration to the mainstream of society and for other purposes.

Members of Disabled People’s Organization (DPOs) around the country have numerous reports on the refusal of drugstores to provide the discount. For this reason, PWDs from different DPOs joined ranks and filed their complaint against drugstores violating the provision in R.A. 9442 to the Commission on Human Rights.

BP344, also known as the Accessibility Law, is an act to enhance the mobility of disabled persons by requiring certain buildings, institutions, establishments, and public utilities to install facilities and other devices. This law is in effect for almost three decades now but has been violated in numerous instances. The complaint pointed out the inaccessible footbridges which were all built in violation of the provisions of the Accessibility Law.

In some footbridges, there are futile attempts to include accessibility features. These efforts made it more dangerous for PWDs to use them. The footbridge in EDSA corner Quezon Avenue is one example. One of the approaches of the ramp is not cemented and most of the time is wet and muddy. The ramp is too steep that even with assistance it would be an arduous task to go up plus the dangerous downhill trek. The structures of the steps are also not helpful for blinds using walking canes. There are no tactile markings for directions. All these and the other flaws are more of hindrances and not in consonance with the Accessibility Law.

After submitting the formal complaint letter to the CHR, the group went to the Mercury Drugstore in Philcoa. The press people witnessed the violation continuously being committed by Mercury drugstore with regards to the implementation of R.A. 9442. Even after presenting the requirements for purchasing medicine, no discount was given.

The group then proceeded to inspect the EDSA/Quezon Ave. footbridge. The press people experienced the difficulty of using the ramp on a wheelchair and the life-threatening alternative of crossing EDSA worming through the traffic.

PWDs are part of our society. It is their hope to be heard and be included in the mainstream of humanity.

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