Speaking at this year’s commemoration of the International Down Syndrome, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration- Kabo Morwaeng says a certain degree of independence is needed to enjoy life abundantly.
“To the rest of us, as we commemorate, let us bear in mind that for anyone to live abundantly and enjoy their humanity, they need a certain degree of independence. We, therefore, must strive to assist those we care for to attain some independence for their own good.” Morwaeng asserted.
According to the Minister, it is vital for us to ‘CONNECT’ as this year’s theme says. He says in this era of the pandemic no one should be left behind- especially people with the Down Syndrome. He has stated that this is important because “research has shown that people with Down syndrome are amongst the high risk groups” and should therefore be guarded and protected.
International Down Syndrome was first recognized by the United Nations in 2012 and has since been celebrated. The day is observed annually on 21st of March, and Botswana as part of the international community honours the day.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes mild to serious physical and developmental problems. People with Down syndrome are born with an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are bundles of genes, and your body relies on having just the right number of them. With Down syndrome, this extra chromosome leads to a range of issues that affect you both mentally and physically.
Mental abilities vary, but most people with Down syndrome have mild to moderate issues with thinking, reasoning, and understanding. They’ll learn and pick up new skills their whole lives, but they may take longer to reach important goals like walking, talking, and developing social skills.
People with Down syndrome tend to have certain physical features in common. These may include: Eyes that slant up at the outer corner; Small ear; Flat noses; Protruding tongue; Tiny white spots in the colored part of the eyes; Short neck; Small hands and feet; Short stature; Loose joints; and a weak muscle tone.
Morwaeng says the theme passionately challenges us to be an inclusive society, recognizing the needs of people with Down syndrome as well as demonstrating sympathy to them and their caregivers. He says connecting with each other means willingness to be the voice of the voiceless, and providing a shoulder for those who need one – thus, creating a better world for all.
The Minister says it is his government’s goal to ensure that people living with disabilities participate as much as possible to the development of the country. As such Morwaeng says the government has in place programmes meant to ensure that people with disabilities are empowered.
By so doing, Botswana’s Vision 2036 pillar which targets Prosperity for all will be achieved. According to the Botswana Demographic Survey of 2017, there are about ninety thousand, nine hundred and forty five (90,945) people living with some form of disability in Botswana. Those with intellectual and related disabilities – under which Down syndrome falls – are reported to be around sixteen thousand, eight hundred and fifty six (16,856). In addition, worldwide it is estimated that 1 in 800 children are born with the condition.