Experience of families in accessing government-led support for children with disabilities in Bangladesh
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PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to understand the experiences of families in accessing government support (i.e., disability allowances and rehabilitation services) for their children with disabilities (CWDs) in Bangladesh. METHOD: We employed a qualitative descriptive method of study and interviewed 27 family members of CWDs. A thematic analysis was applied to analyze data using the following access dimensions to organize themes: availability, accommodation, accessibility, affordability, acceptability, and awareness. RESULTS: Participants shared both positive and negative experiences across the access dimensions in accessing government support. Participants appreciated the government's effort in providing support to CWDs. In particular, disability allowances and coordinated rehabilitation services at one-stop were important for families. Further, positive attitudes, such as respect and support from providers, were reported by many families. However, a majority of participants reported a long wait time to get the disability allowance for CWDs. Participants also reported that a shortage of rehabilitation professionals in the public sector was a major concern. Finally, inaccessible infrastructure (e.g., facilities and transportation) and stigma were barriers for many participants of the study. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the government's commitment "on paper" is yet to meet the needs of its intended beneficiaries "in practice". There is a need for policy intervention to address barriers faced by families within the context of current access pathways. Implications for rehabilitation Shortage of rehabilitation services and limited availability of disability allowances [negatively] affect family member's access to government-led support for their CWDs in Bangladesh. The government has increased services for people with disability significantly but there is a need for it to ensure the availability of all forms of rehabilitation and increase the quota for disability allowances to meet the needs of families. It is imperative to improve mechanisms of monitoring the commitment of enacting tangible results from policies in order to ensure equitable distribution of disability allowance and rehabilitation services.
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