Disability activists in Meru want the government to devolve medical assessments to reduce the backlog of unregistered persons.
Of about 70,000 such citizens in the county, only 25,000 are registered with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), said Daniel Mwangangi, a disability activist in Meru.
There were 49,815 people with disabilities in Meru in 2019, the highest in the country, a Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report shows. Of these, 19,508 are visually impaired and 19,281 had mobility disabilities.
Speaking at Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital during a medical assessment drive on Monday, county disability committee chairman Mike Makarina said the government should prioritise registration of people with disabilities to avert marginalisation.
“Government policy is very clear on the benefits that should go to a person with a disability, such as five percent of jobs and government contracts,” Mr Makarina said.
“These benefits can only be received if someone is registered. Putting barriers to the registration process is an attempt to marginalise persons with disability.”
He called on the NCPD to lobby for more medical assessment centres and doctors at the sub-county level to reach more residents.
Mr Makarina welcomed the ongoing renewal of disability registration, arguing that impostors had infiltrated earlier registration drives to benefit from disability services.
“We welcome the plan by the [NCPD] to introduce smart cards because it will weed out impostors. This will ease access to services,” he said.
Dr James Kinyua, an orthopaedic surgeon at Meru Referral, said the monthly medical assessment of disabilities draws more than 300 people to the hospital.
“We normally do community medical assessment drives but this had been suspended for four months due to the political campaigns,” Dr Kinyua said.
“The assessment also takes time because doctors from various specialties such as hearing, ophthalmologists, psychiatrists among others must be involved to determine the level of disability.”
The NCPD announced fresh registration after it rolled out a new system aimed at curbing fraud and enhancing accountability.
It devolved the signing of assessment reports to counties and eligible citizens are expected to register afresh by the end of the year.