Antigua and Barbuda became the latest country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In a statement, Ambassador Dr. Walton Aubrey Webson, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations said that “Antigua and Barbuda considers this ratification an important step by a small island state by agreeing to support and address the issues of persons with disabilities who are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources such as education, employment, healthcare and legal support systems”.
Figures from the recent “world report on Disability” said that about 15 per cent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability,” and those persons face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that prevent them from effectively participating in society.
The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006 in an effort to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same human rights as everyone else.
The treaty sets out the obligations of States Parties to promote, protect and ensure the rights of all people with disabilities and promotes equal rights in all areas of life.
Following the incident on New Year’s Day which left 15 year old Shaveesa Gasper nursing 2nd and 3rd Degree Burns, Health Professionals discussed a growing concern about mental health in Antigua and Barbuda.
Neighbors of the family have been saying that the mother had shown signs of being mentally unstable after reports indicated that the mother of the teen set her alight after having doused her with Gasoline.
Weighing in on the matter, Psychiatrist Dr. Griffin Benjamin indicated that he would not be surprised if Gasper’s mother was suffering from an undiagnosed mental health issue.
He stated that even when these conditions are diagnosed; there is no proper access to care and treatment for these individuals in Antigua which needs to be improved upon.
Also assessing the issue, PAHO Representative for the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados Godfrey Xuereb stated that in many situations of this nature, it is always unfortunate when poor mental health is an issue.
The PAHO Representative indicated that the organization has been working along with health professionals throughout the region to ensure that they can identify mental disorders in patients.
Xuereb stated that structures need to be put in place to ensure that mental health is dealt with properly, not only in Antigua and Barbuda, but among the wider Caribbean.
Last week, Shaveesa Gasper was airlifted from the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre to Martinique to undergo treatment at the burn centre there. Officials disclosed that her injuries were too severe, so the teen was then moved to Paris France where she will undergo reconstructive plastic surgery.