Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...


Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...


Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...


The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

What is Disability

Disability has been defined in numerous ways. In general, disabilities are mental, physical, emotional, developmental or sensory characteristics, that to a lesser or greater extent, affect a person's ability to function independently in all or some aspects of daily life. Different kinds of disabilities affect people in different ways. Some people are born with a disability, others get sick or have an accident that results in disability, and some develop a disability as they age. Realistically, disability can become a fact of life for anyone- men, women and children of all ages, races and ethnicities- at any time.

People with disabilities are one of the most marginalized groups in the world. This is reflected in poorer health outcomes, less economic participation, lower educational achievements and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. Since disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between the person and features of their environment; disability is now recognized as a human rights issue. In other words, people are not only disabled by their physical, cognitive and sensory characteristics, but by society at large.

The 3 December is International Day of Disabled Persons. The aim is to involve and promote disabled people and their organizations; to celebrate their skills, valuable experiences and expertise; to encourage discussion and raise awareness of disability issues in general and to publicize both good and bad laws, policies and programs; as well as promoting the rights of all disabled people and ensuring that they are respected.

In the past, disability was often seen as the "problem" of the individual and it was therefore the individual who had to change, or needed to be changed through rehabilitation or cure. In contrast, the social model of disability focuses on societies disabling environment and barriers of attitude, rather than the impairments of the individual. International Day, perpetuates the belief that it is social and economic barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating fully in society; and stresses the importance of human rights and the equalization of opportunities.

One of the simplest ways in which to raise awareness about disability issues, to dispel myths and change attitudes, is to talk to people. When we speak to others about their daily lives, their thoughts and feelings; it is much easier to understand who they are. By talking to people we meet, about the ways in which society disables them, we can go a long way towards removing traditionally held stereotypes of disabled people and rather portray disabled individuals as active participants in society- who have ideas, needs, skills and rights- like all other human beings.

Globally, disabling barriers can be overcome by promoting access to mainstream services, such as access to transportation and work environments; investing in specific programs for people with disabilities; adopting a national strategy and plan of action; improving the recruitment, education and training of staff; increasing public awareness and understanding of disability; conducting quality research in this regard; investing sufficient funds into bringing about these positive changes, and involving people with disabilities in policy making decisions.

The demography of disability is problematic but demographers agree that the world population of individuals with disabilities is very large:
* It is estimated that 15% of the world's population or over 1 billion people, live with some form of disability. This rate is on the increase, due to population ageing and the global increase in chronic health.
* Disability is more common in developing rather than developed nations.
* There is a higher rate of disability among women, older people and those in lower income groups.
* People with disabilities, often cannot afford nor do they receive adequate health care.
* Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school or complete their education than non-disabled children.
* People with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people.
* Disability makes people more vulnerable to poverty. This is reflected in poorer living conditions and is compounded by the extra costs of medical care, assistive devices or the need for personal support.
* Although rehabilitation maximizes functioning and allows for independent living, there is a lack of adequate resources. One study showed that in Southern Africa, only 26-55% of people received the medical rehabilitation they needed, and only 17-37% received the necessary assistive devices (e.g. wheel chairs, prostheses, hearing aids).
* In general, people with disabilities do not have their needs met for assistance, and most adults rely on their friends and family for assistance with daily activities.

Children often have a sense of wisdom and maturity beyond their years, a sensitivity and keen perception of the world around them, and sometimes more resilience than we give them credit for. For a better understanding of how children see their disabled parents, watch this touching account of how disability influenced the lives of one family.


Fletcher, A. (1993). Disability Awareness in Action: Information Kit to Support the International Day of Disabled Persons 3 December. London: UK.