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KARACHI: The first lady Samina Arif Alvi, on Saturday, stressed collaborative measures for ensuring the provision of inclusive opportunities to disabled persons in all sectors of life, particularly education, health and employment.

She was addressing a seminar titled “Harmony of Gifts, Special Children, Special Possibilities” jointly organized by the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi and The Circle in connection with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Samina pointed out the scarcity of facilities for special persons in the country and urged the government and private sector to work vigorously to enable disabled persons to play active and productive roles in society. She said that there were several obstructions for special people in our society and those needed to be removed for the creation of an inclusive society.

To bring a positive change in behaviour towards persons with disabilities we have to transform the public mindset and attitude through the inclusion of special children, she stated adding that amalgamation of disabled children in general institutions would help others to understand the special children and their special needs.

She said that specialized teachers and trainers were required to educate and train disabled children. Concerned government departments had taken steps in this regard but those were not sufficient concerning the number of such children and more efforts were required, she maintained.

Besides promulgation of laws for the assistance of special people, the government has reserved special quotas for differently-abled persons in public sector jobs and NADRA has made the process of issuance of Special CNIC easier while banks were also facilitating the differently disabled, noted and urged the private sector to contribute in efforts for empowerment of special persons and provide them employment opportunities.

Referring to the mass awareness campaign on breast cancer and its positive outcomes, she observed that the stigma attached with breast cancer was breaking and the situation was ameliorating as now more women in the first and second stages of the disease were coming to doctors for treatment.

The same social stigma was attached to the mental health issues which also needed to be addressed so that public perceptions towards mental health could change and remedial efforts could be started well in time, she added.

The number of psychologists and psychiatrists in the country is also far less than then requirement, she noted and informed that overseas Pakistanis having expertise in the field were ready to provide their services in the sector.

Government also started a project, Hamraz helpline, for providing consultation and guidance about mental health issues while another helpline was operational under Zainab Alert aimed at child protection, she said and added that there should be a single helpline so that any citizen could contact it in time of need without any difficulty.

The first lady appreciated Sindh government for establishing a centre for Autism in Karachi and also lauded The Circle, NOWPDP and other organizations working for the welfare and empowerment of disabled persons in the country.

Sindh caretaker minister Muhammad Ahmed Shah, who is also president of the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi, speaking at the occasion said that the Sindh government has worked extensively for persons with disabilities and different projects worth billions of Rupees were completed in Karachi and other cities of the province.

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