“To become independent and remain independent” Living with mobility impairments in rural Peru
Not peer reviewed
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Background: The UN emphasizes the need for understanding the living conditions of persons with disabilities (PWD) and enhancing their inclusion into society. Peru has endorsed the Convention on the Rights of PWD through legislative approaches, but inequalities persist. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the situation of persons with mobility impairments in a rural part of San Martín Region in northeastern Peru, and the experiences of other stakeholders in the field of disability. To ensure a critical approach on disability and rehabilitation, anthropological perspectives on the body were used, as well as concepts from the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and Community- based Rehabilitation (CBR), such as activity, participation and empowerment.
Population and sampling: Nine individuals with a mobility impairment, six caregivers and/or spouses to PWD, and four other stakeholders working with PWD were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling techniques.
Methods of data collection: The data collection was carried out from September to mid- November in 2015, including nine in-depth interviews, three natural group discussions, and participatory observation in a local hospital and in a school for children with special needs.
Data analysis:The data was analyzed using thematic content and narrative analyses.
Findings: The findings confirm that persons living with mobility impairments in a remote area do not receive adequate assistance to cover their needs, or that services are completely lacking, such as rehabilitation or assistive device services. Although some informants did not feel disabled at all, many informants emphasized the importance of better social support and more understanding of their limitations by people in their community. This includes supporting caregivers of PWD as well. Spiritual strength and faith in God was found to be a guiding force in the lives of the informants, and lack of trust in the authorities appeared to be a common perception among the informants.
Conclusions: The study indicates a strong need for improving health and social service provision for PWD living in rural and distant communities. As well, there is a need for raising awareness and helping communities to become more inclusive in line with the intentions and legislative steps taken by the Peruvian government when endorsing the rights of PWD.
Implications: The needs of PWD must be addressed in order to improve their capabilities and social inclusion in Peruvian communities and society. More research in rural areas is needed.