Uzbekistan's state programme for 2021: what about disability inclusion? - Dilmurad Yusupov
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Uzbekistan’s state programme for 2021: what about disability inclusion?

Photo: Inside a social welfare department (Sobes) in one of the regions of Uzbekistan, by Dilmurad Yusupov

In his annual address to the Parliament (Oliy Majlis) President Shavkat Mirziyoyev suggested naming 2021 as the Year of Supporting Youth and Strengthening Public Health. He mentioned that this year the government would further strengthen the social protection of the population and announced a step-by-step transition to the “social model” in defining disability based on international standards. Mirziyoyev also talked about introducing a new system that would provide about 50 thousand citizens with prosthetic and orthopaedic products and rehabilitation means.

On 3 February the President signed a decree ‘On the state programme for the implementation of the Action Strategy on five priority areas of development of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021.’ The state programme also includes several measures to support disabled people that shall be implemented by 1 June 2021. Firstly, the government will introduce a new system of provision of prosthetic and orthopaedic products as well as technical means of rehabilitation. From now on, disabled people will have a choice to buy any product from any manufacturer in the local market by a state-provided certificate with allocated state funds. 

Secondly, citizens with ‘anatomical defects that have clear signs of impairments’ will be officially recognised as disabled by the Medical Labour Expert Commissions (VTEK) without additional medical examination to obtain clinical and functional information. Before disabled people who had explicit impairments (e.g. amputation of limbs) should have had to go through a burdensome procedure of required inpatient treatment at the hospital, which incurred additional costs. Such red tape was humiliative towards those children and adults who had clear signs of impairments. Starting for this year, VTEK promises them to determine disability for an indefinite period without the requirement for reexamination regularly.

Finally, the Ministry of Healthcare, currently the main state agency responsible for the social support and rehabilitation of disabled people in Uzbekistan, was given a task to take necessary measures to form a conceptually new model of medical and social services three months. Yesterday Uzbekistan 24 national TV channel requested my comments about the state programme and whether disability inclusion is well-reflected. Although I provided more than 2 minutes of the prerecorded video interview, my comments were considerably edited, and critical suggestions were cut. However, they promised to make a separate TV show next week or so specifically on disability-inclusive development in Uzbekistan and invite me via Zoom. Let’s see what happens!

Unfortunately, the 2021 state programme did not include the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Uzbekistan signed it on 27 February 2009 and remains one of the few countries (together with Tajikistan in Central Asia) which has not ratified it yet. 182 out of the 193 UN member states, including many post-Soviet countries have ratified it already and started implementing with various degrees of success. Last year my petition for the ratification of CRPD was not approved by the “Mening Fikrim” (My Opinion) public appeals portal. I hope the Convention will be ratified this year at least…

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