Podcam calls for subsidy on disability devices


The Parents of Disabled Children Association in Malawi (Podcam) has asked government to consider subsidising assistive devices to lessen the plight of children living with physical challenges.

Podcam Executive Director Miriam Namanja said this on Friday during a press briefing the disability advocacy organisation organised in Blantyre.

According to Namanja, government is doing a lot in uplifting physically challenged people in the country but observed that the cost of assistive devices is high to the extent that poor parents with physically challenged children cannot afford to buy them.


“There is poverty and illiteracy among people with disabilities but we have successfully sensitised the parents on the importance of sending physically challenged children to school. But, they are failing to access assistive devices because they are expensive,” lamented Namanja.

She observed that most assistive devices are not found locally and the importation process inflates the cost, thereby making many parents fail to acquire them for their children.

One parent, who has a child with an intellectual disability, George Matipwiri, outlined the challenges he faced when he wanted to acquire a ‘madiba bag’, a mobility and position device, from South Africa for his child.


“I had to acquire a loan from a local bank under strenuous conditions and travelled thrice to Ntswane and Stevie Becko Hospitals in South Africa to press an order for this device. The process involved that I bring my child to the hospitals, which was not possible using buses because her condition would subject the bus to frequent stoppages in case she needed to eat and answer the call of nature,” he disclosed.

Matipwiri further said he got a rude awakening when he discovered that a suitable chair for his child cost close to K2 million.

“The whole process cost me about K4 million for this positioning chair, a process that has subjected me to be heavily indebted to the bank. Now, consider poor parents who are in the villages but have children with cerebral palsy or any other disability, they can’t get a loan and undergo the hustle I went through to acquire a device for their child,” he said.

Matipwiri revealed that he was shocked to discover that the South African government subsidises assistive devices, a thing he said can help lessen the plight of physically challenged children if implemented in Malawi.

Minister of Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati described Podcam’s proposal as valid, promising that her ministry would do an assessment for recommendations to government.

Podcam was formed to advocate for rights of children with disabilities and operates in more than 23 districts in the country.

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