This year’s celebration of National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) will focus not only on the economic empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) but also on the promotion of their health and wellbeing.

The PWD Empowerment through Health and Livelihood Forum will be held at the Bulwagang Amoranto Quezon City Hall on Tuesday, July 21, at 11:30am and gather various stakeholders involved in the promotion of the various rights of the PWDs.

New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) President Emer Rojas said the forum is part of the PWD Empowerment Project, a partnership that they have clinched together with the British Embassy and which is also anchored on the government’s PWD inclusive agenda.

The project seeks to uplift the economic life of PWDs by supporting livelihood opportunities and engaging them in sustainable business. It is anchored on Executive Order 417 which highlights the importance of the support of the government in the marketing of PWD products and services. It also mandates technical support and financial assistance to intended PWD livelihood projects.

“Most PWDs belong to the vulnerable and marginalized members of the society. The PWD Empowerment Project intends to improve the economic situation of PWD families through sustainable community-based businesses. With the support of all stakeholders, I believe the PWDs can attain success”, Rojas said.

Rojas also said uplifting the lives of PWDs should not only involve their economic needs but must also involve their health being one of the country’s marginalized sectors.

“The health needs of PWDs are enormous as majority of them belong to the poor sector and are likely not to have the same access to health information and services. With 15% of the population experiencing some form of disability as estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO), we can just imagine how many PWDs are in need of help,” he said.

Rojas noted that last year’s passage of the graphic health warnings law is expected to save the lives of many people including PWDs who either smoke or are exposed to tobacco emission.

“Most of our PWDs are also unschooled so having graphic health warnings on tobacco packs would help make them understand the dangers of smoking and hopefully save them from tobacco-related diseases such as cancer,” said the NVAP chief who also sits as PWD sector representative at the Quezon City Development Council and the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

QC Mayor Herbert Bautista will keynote the forum while Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and British Embassy First Secretary Steph Lysaght be guest speakers.

Mr. Mike Barredo of the PWD Inc. will present the PWD Empowerment Project Video while Dr. Dario Lapada of the CANCER Coalition will discuss cancer alleviation strategies in the Philippines. Mr. Rojas will give an update on the implementation of the graphic health warning law and how they will save the lives of PWD from diseases and premature death.

“PWD Empowerment, the key to an inclusive society wherein no one is left behind”, Rojas ended.