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Kenya Develops First Ever Disability Assessment Guidelines

The government, through the Ministry of Health (MOH), has developed new guidelines for assessing and categorizing disabilities in the country.

The Disability Medical Assessment and Categorization Guidelines are the first of their kind in the country and aim to “provide a standard process, unified and consistent language, for conducting the assessment and categorization of persons with disabilities.”

The guidelines are based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) model, the World Health Organization's (WHO) framework for measuring health and disability for individuals and the population.

According to the Acting Director General for Health, Dr. Patrick Amoth, the new ICF-based guidelines provide a “radical shift from emphasizing on a person’s disability to a focus on their level of health.”

In his foreword of the 155-page document, Dr. Amoth notes that the guidelines will assist the MOH in providing a scientific basis for understanding studying health and related issues and establishing a common language for describing health and related states, thereby improving communication among stakeholders.

Further, Dr. Amoth says the guidelines will enable the Ministry to develop a systematic coding scheme for health information systems and allow data comparison across government agencies, health institutions, and other stakeholders.

Before developing these guidelines, Kenya did not have credible means of conducting disability assessments, much to the disadvantage of the estimated 900,000 persons with disabilities  in the country.

Consequently, many deserving persons could not access various benefits accorded to Persons with disabilities by the government, such as assistive devices, educational bursaries, tax exemptions, etc. These benefits are only accessible to those who have undergone the assessment and are found to be having a disability.

Among the provisions of the guidelines are the decentralization of the assessment process from MOH headquarters to the counties, appointment of assessment committees, classification of disabilities into six categories, and a comprehensive guide on assessing each disability.

The development of the guidelines is in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which requires member states to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”

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