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Reasonable accommodation – a fundamental right for people with disability

When the Ministry of Health and Child Care initiated free cancer screening country wide, Harare was no exception.

Women from all walks of life attended and it was well received, especially during this time when a lot of people cannot afford to visit any medical centres due to steep medical fees. Anything free is welcomed by the majority of people.

One particular site was no exception and just like anyone else, Annie (not her real name) arrived at the centre very early in the morning expecting to receive the service like any other woman.

The room where the screening was being conducted was an ordinary room with testing equipment. Typical of any health care facility, it had some hospital beds which were elevated. One had to climb on a pedestal (stool) in order to have access to the top of the bed so as to lie thereon.

Further, one had to lift one’s legs from the stool to get to the apex of the bed. When it was Anne’s turn, it was the most embarrassing moment of her life since, just like anyone else she was expected to climb on to the bed.

Unfortunately, there was no special provision for her since she is a woman living with disabilities, she has paralysed legs. Her mobility is dependent on wheelchair.

Unfortunately the nursing staff had not anticipated this kind of scenario and as such they were perplexed. Since they had not anticipated this complex situation and before they could think of what course of action to take next, one particular nurse then said ‘so how do we…’

Before she could finish what she intended to say, Annie came in and disrupted her by saying; “I would have loved to have a cervix cancer screen but anyway I can as well have breast cancer screening instead”.

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