“Before, we could only dream of such luxuries. We thought that these kind of centres were privileges only enjoyed by city dwellers, but now we have a centre right here in Mukur,” said Mukur village resident Kulzipa Daulenova.
The East Kazakhstan region is home to more than 57,000 disabled people, including more than 10,000 in Semey who need considerably more assistance in their integration into society than they are currently receiving. There are 2,928 people living in Mukur village, including 1,406 pensioners, 30 persons with disabilities and 12 World War II veterans. Mukur is a test site for the best global practices in improving the lives of older persons and persons with disabilities in rural areas after they are successfully tested in the city of Semey.
“There are several problems that increase the need for new and alternative forms of health and social care provisions for local residents. Among them is the aging population and related mental and physical health issues. In addition, we can see an increase in the number of relatively young people with disabilities among residents affected by the nuclear tests at the former Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site. Only last year, 12 projects were implemented in this area, totaling 13 million tenge (US$70,102) as part of a joint UN programme in East Kazakhstan,” said Rauan Kaliyev, manager of the UNDP Department for Improving Access to Social and Economic Services.
The construction of a daycare centre to serve Mukur residents with disabilities is long overdue and has not been addressed because of inadequate funding. The new centre opened with financial support from the UNDP as part of a Nur Kala grant project. There are bikes, oxygen concentrators and other equipment for indoor activities. According to health experts, the use of oxygen concentrators is one the most efficient and cost-effective ways to administer oxygen therapy for patients with chronic respiratory failure at home. Oxygen concentrators can reduce the length of hospital stays, allowing patients to continue treatment at home. They are also the only way to extend the lives of patients with severe respiratory failure. Occupational therapy is the treatment of people with specific activities aimed at restoring their maximum level of function and independence in all aspects of life. As shown by the most effective social services in the UK, this type of therapy actively restores and preserves human health. The akimat (administration) of the Mukur rural district, in considering the importance of the project, provided a separate room to serve as the centre’s office.
The first day care centre for the elderly and persons with disabilities in Semey was opened two years ago through another grant project via a local medical and social institution. The centre can provide services to up to 350 people a year. Visitors to the centre have noted a significant improvement in the quality of social services received in Semey. For their convenience, there is a sensory room with modern massage equipment. The centre also raises public awareness about healthy lifestyle issues and provides psychological support. According to them, all these dimensions of the UN programme have contributed to the integration of the disabled into society, recovery of their personal and social standing, motivation to live long lives and their mental health.
Based on the principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UNDP also supports initiatives that provide opportunities to disabled children in Eastern Kazakhstan. Taking into account the needs of children in Semey, the UNDP supported the establishment of remedial (correctional) secondary school classes at schools No. 42 and No. 20 by purchasing special equipment and furniture.
Semey Deputy Mayor for Social Issues Zauresh Isabayeva participated in the opening of these two projects totaling 2.4 million tenge (US$12,947) to support socially vulnerable segments of the population in Mukur and Semey on Feb. 13. Deputy Head of the Semey Education Department Yerzhan Yestayev thanked the UNDP for paying attention to people with disabilities and creating healthy conditions for classes to be held in on behalf of parents. Isabayeva asked that support for projects aimed at creating a barrier free society be continued.
The author is a communication specialist with the UN Joint Programme in East Kazakhstan.