What is DHAT?
The Disability, HIV and AIDS Trust [DHAT] is a coalition of and for- disability organizations promoting Disability Rights, Health and Development responses that address needs and empowerment of persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe and SADC countries. DHAT’s core mandate is capacity building, health and advocacy for the development of Persons with disabilities and strengthening capacities of OPDs in Southern Africa. DHAT has country programs in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The regional Secretariat is in Lilongwe, Malawi.
DHAT’s mandate is advocacy for disability inclusive Rights, Development, Health (Cancer, HIV and AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services, policies, legislation and practices. DHAT promotes the rights and capabilities of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). It aims at achieving inclusion through involvement and meaningful participation of PWDs in socio-economic, SRH, HIV and AIDS interventions.
To advocate for and facilitate comprehensive rights-based SRH, HIV, AIDS and related interventions, as well as increasing activity, participation and empowerment, for persons with disabilities.
Rationale for DHAT’s Interventions Regarding SRHR, TB, HIV and AIDS Response for persons with disabilities
From the information above, the scenario of persons with disabilities in the Southern Africa/SADC region may be summarized into 3 key issues:
- Limited access to social, economic and other opportunities by persons with disabilities: Due to their respective physical, sensory, social, intellectual and emotional functional limitations, persons with disabilities are limited in day-to-day activities and participation. Society has beliefs and myths that stigmatize disability and the environments in which PWDs live do not have adequate provisions that facilitate specific needs of PWDs. As a result most PWDs are excluded from accessing opportunities for education, health, employment, economic ventures, etc, and are therefore less empowered compared to non-disabled people.
- Vulnerability: The limitations noted above subject persons with disabilities to privation and deprivation in many aspects. As a result of limited access to opportunities, most disabled people in the region are among the most socio-economically needy and therefore highly vulnerable to HIV and AIDS and other related health issues.
- Lack/inadequate access to SRHR, HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care, support and mitigation services: Programmes and services are designed, planned and implemented in the context of the non-disabled. Disability sensitive and friendly services are inadequate or non-existent. In other words, most prevention, treatment, care, support and mitigations services are not accessible to persons with disabilities. For example, facilities lack provisions such as elevators, ramps and wide doors to facilitate access for the physically handicapped; Braille translation for the blind; service providers who are able to communicate in sign language to serve the deaf. Policies that promote disability friendly provisions do not exist or are inadequate. Where such policies exist in the absence of supportive legislation to enforce policy implementation, policies are unhelpful.
National / Country Activities
- To facilitate and advocate for comprehensive rights-based SRH, TB, HIV, AIDS and related interventions for persons with disabilities: DHAT seeks to support, facilitate and promote increased access to prevention, treatment, care, support and mitigation services for PWDs. This is an immediate and urgent part of DHAT’s work, which is a service delivery component that is mainly at community and country levels. Strategies and activities include working with OPDs, CBRCs, ASOs, national health services as well as NACs in developing IEC materials to cater for the respective needs of PWDs; training service providers (both pre-service and in-service) in areas like sign language and generally in working with specific disabilities. Capacity development of OPDs and their respective federations, CBRCs and ASO are among the strategies and activities for this goal.
- To facilitate and advocate for comprehensive rights-based interventions that increase activity, participation and empowerment of persons with disabilities: DHAT seeks to promote, support and facilitate Interventions, ideas and Approaches addressing vulnerabilities, empowerment needs and increasing activity and participation of persons with disabilities. This is largely a strategic component that necessitates review, formulation, advocacy, networking, information sharing and dissemination on disability related policy and legislation in the countries and region. DHAT sees this work to be mainly at country and regional levels. At regional level, DHAT seeks to influence and work with relevant regional leaders and stakeholders to have in place and implement systems that increase the activity, participation and empowerment of PWDs.
DHAT’s regional activities are informed by national priorities through its country offices and partners (Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and with direct link with Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), Disability Networks, AIDS Service Organisations (ASOs), and communities in other countries. These linkages (country, OPDs, disability networks, community, ASO and regional experiences) promote south –to- south learning and facilities evidence based advocacy for influencing legislation, policies and research developed at different levels. DHAT demonstrates its regional value added through;
- Sharing learning’s and creating a disability voice.
- Facilitating regional thinking and influencing policies and legislations.
- Making resources work for Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and communities’ response to disability, SRHR, TB, HIV and AIDS and health related issues.
- Supporting evidence- based decision making through research.
- Providing supportive platforms on inclusive, gender, girl child, youth service delivery, stigma, home based care, rehabilitation, intersection between HIV and Disability issues
- Participating in and strengthening regional and international initiatives.
Further, DHAT promotes the rights and capacity building of persons with disabilities (PWDs) infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and their organisations; aimed at achieving inclusion and full participation of disabled people in economic, SRHR, social and political development and HIV and AIDS and other health related interventions. DHAT’s implementation strategy emphasizes on capacity development of its stakeholders. The mandate includes solidarity building, information facilitation, training, research, advocacy and network.