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New agreement sees transfer of disability service to Social Development Ministry from HCD

By Laila Azzeh - Apr 21,2017 - Last updated at Apr 21,2017

HH Prince Mired and Minster of Social Development Wajih Azaizeh attend the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities and the Social Development Ministry in Amman on Thursday (Petra photo)

AMMAN – A new era in handling issues related to people with disabilities in Jordan has just started with transferring major files from the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities (HCD) to the mandate of the Social Development Ministry. 

In line with the new people with disabilities law, which is still in the pipeline and expected to be deliberated by the Lower House in the current ordinary session, the ministry will be responsible of providing services to citizens with disabilities instead of having the HCD undertake such a duty. 

To this effect, the HCD and Social Development Ministry on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding, under which the direct cash support and disability services purchases for centres and institutions affiliated with the ministry will be transferred from the council to the ministry. 

The agreement entails transferring the education services procurement file with its 2017 financial allocations to the ministry under specific condition that guarantees the continuation of these services and in coordination with the HCD. 

Stressing the significance of such step in enabling the council to focus on its mandate in drawing up policies and strategies for those with disabilities, HH Prince Mired noted that the coming phase will witness a “quantum leap” in the disability anti-discrimination efforts with the endorsement of the new law.

“The agreement today was signed out of our awareness of the role the council should devote itself to as a policymaker, coordinator of the executive authorities’ efforts towards people with disabilities and an observer of the law application. The direct services will be the responsibility of the Social Development Ministry, which is equipped with the necessary tools, mechanisms and expertise,” said the prince. 

HCD Secretary General Muhannad Azzeh noted that the current and the anticipated law on people with disabilities specify the role of the council as a strategy and policy maker, but the nature of the disabilities’ file has turned the entity into a service provider. 

“If the new law, which is expected to exactly identify the duties of the HCD, has been endorsed without transferring the file of service providing to the ministry, beneficiaries would have found themselves deprived of any support. Although we are facing resistance from some, but we assure you that this is the best way to go about it to protect their rights,” said Azzeh, who noted that the council used to extend more than JD3 million a year in cash support. 

He highlighted that a total of 1,700 cases will be transferred to the Social Development Ministry.

“Disability centres, whose beneficiaries receive support from the council and are not registered with the ministry, will continue to be handled by us until they become accredited by the ministry,” said Azzeh. 

While acknowledging the “heavy” load of files the ministry is receiving, its secretary general, Omar Hamzeh noted that the disabilities sector in Jordan has been witnessing many short comings, which affected the rights and quality of services for citizens with disabilities. 

“The memorandum today helps putting one of the major files on the right track. We are committed to ensure that our by-laws and cadres are competent enough to deal with people with disabilities in our society,” he said. 

Social Development Minister Wajih Azaizeh also commended the new step, pointing to the need to also improve the institutional capabilities of centres working with disabled people and enhance the living conditions of their staff. 

 

Discussions during the press conference on Thursday covered aspects of the anticipated disabilities law, which is based on a special approach towards combating discrimination towards people with disabilities, focusing on inclusive education and other essential rights. 

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