Supreme Court asked to ensure inclusion of disability data in census
Asia-Pacific, February 20 2017
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN: The Supreme Court has been asked to direct the federal government to ensure that information about persons with disabilities is collected in the upcoming population census, which is expected to begin on March 15.
“The census should ensure proper identification of persons with disabilities, documentation of impairments and categorisations of the type, cause, duration and severity of the disability,” says the petition moved by Advocate Raheel Kamran Sheikh.
The request is a miscellaneous application that seeks to be clubbed with an already pending joint petition, which highlights the constitutional rights being denied to persons with disabilities.
The earlier petition was moved by a community-based organisation from Karachi, the Inclusive Development Network Pakistan, and has been pending before the court for over two years now.
In the fresh application, the petitioner argues that paucity of data about persons with disabilities is the greatest hindrance in ensuring the effectiveness of any law or policy intended to assist such persons.
The lawmakers as well as the administrative functionaries continue to work with outdated figures and are thus unaware of the number of people who need specific intervention, treatment, training and rehabilitation.
Data regarding the identification of persons with disabilities, documentation of impairments and categorisations of the types, causes, duration and severity of the disability is crucial to gauging the specific needs of persons with disabilities.
The application regrets that the last time such an exercise was undertaken was in 1998, almost 20 years ago.
As a result, the most recent official data available with regards to persons with disabilities are figures collected through the 1998 census, which hold that the percentage of persons with disabilities is around 2.5 per cent of the total population, the application argued.
Due to the unreliability and paucity of the official data on the subject, different international and national non-governmental and semi-governmental organisations have carried out surveys, which reveal a significant incidence of disability in Pakistan.
For example, the World Health Organisation has estimated the incidence of disability to be around 7pc in 2011. The World Disability Report 2011, jointly prepared by the WHO and the World Bank, derived its disability estimates from a World Heath Survey conducted between 2002 and 2004 and found a disability prevalence of 13.4pc for Pakistan.