Workshop on Improving Disability Data for Policy
|Documentation for the Workshop /
Country Papers : Philippines
The Philippine Disability Data Situation
Catalina L. Fermin
The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,100 islands. It has three major island groups-Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Based on the 2000 population census, there are about 80 million Filipinos and half of this population is concentrated in urban centers. Greater bulk resides in rural areas.
No one knows exactly how many Filipinos have disability. We often use the World Health Organization estimates for developing country that one out of every ten people has a disability. Based on this there are about 8.0 million Filipinos with disability, 80% live in the rural areas where benefit of development could hardly reach them.
The requirement for statistics on disability will provide a more comprehensive and integrated programs with the ability to cope with the needs of the sector with disability for services. Reliable data on the disability situation will facilitate effective policy and program planning which will result to narrowing down the gaps between needs and services.
In response to the aforementioned issues, the National Commission Concerning Disabled Persons (NCCDP) now the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP) undertook initiatives to establish a national data base in order to establish the disability situation in the country.
The 1980 National Survey (NDS).
In 1980 the NCCDP presently the NCWDP conducted the National Disability Survey with the Department of Health as the lead agency and the University of the Philippines General Hospital (UPGH), Department of Rehabilitation tasked with the formulation the instrument. This was to provide support in the development of a National Comprehensive Plan of Action for Filipinos with Disabilities. Nurses and other medical workers of the Department of Health were trained and utilized to conduct the survey. It was the first attempt when disability in the country could be defined statistically.
The results of the NDS were released in 1983 and showed that the prevalence rate of disability was estimated at 44.17 per 1,000 population for all kinds of disability. Physical impairment was the most prominent form of disability while mental impairment on the other hand, had a lower prevalence rate of 4 per 1,000 population. The mixed mental and physical impairment had a prevalence rate of 1.35 per 1,000 population.
Despite the limitations due to the random sampling method it utilized the 1980 data provided an understanding of the disability situation in the country which is an important element in the development of policies, plans and programs for the sector with disability. For the first time the much-needed information on disability as to its prevalence/incidence was made available to implementors, policy makers and other concerned sectors. The 1980 survey defined the major categories of impairments and identified major causes.
Developments in the area of disability both locally and globally during the period 1980's to 1990's resulted to a greater demand for more accurate and reliable data on disability from planners, service providers, policy makers, including rehab professionals and researchers. We have the first UN Declaration of the 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons, Decade of Disabled Persons in 1983-1992, Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons 1993-2002, and now the period from 2003-2012 as the AP Decade of Persons with Disabilities.
In the Philippines during this period, the concern for the development of the sector with disability was evident through the passage of relevant laws. The Accessibility Law which is on the creation of a barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities (PWDs) to facilitate their inclusion into the mainstream of Philippine Society; the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (Republic Act 7277) considered a "land mark legislation" as it promotes and gives protection to the equal rights and opportunities of PWDs and defines the responsibilities of concerned government agencies in the total development of PWDs. The declaration of the period 2003-2012 as the Philippine Decade of Persons with Disabilities through Presidential Proclamation No. 240 has mandated the NCWDP to develop a National Plan of Action for the Philippine Decade 2003-2012 as a national framework that will guide planners and implementors. Further, the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action Towards an Inclusive, Barrier-Free and rights Based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific which was adapted in October 2002 at a High-Level Intergovernmental Meeting in Otsu, Japan requested governments to develop their system of disability-related data collection so that relevant statistics disaggregated by type of disability and population groups can support policy making. These developments have made all sectors clamor for reliable PWD statistics to rationalize planning, implementation and monitoring of programs and services.
The prevalence rates cited in the 1980 survey has consistently been less that those of the results of focused studies conducted by experts on specific disability conditions. For instance, a survey on the prevalence of blindness of the Department of Opthalmology of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital in 1987 showed a binocular blindness prevalence rate of 1.07 percent (over 5 times the national survey rate), and monocular blindness prevalence rate of 0.6 percent (twice the national survey rate.) Following these rates, the estimated number of people with binocular blindness as of 1990 would be 649,300, while those with monocular blindness would be 364,109, or a total of 1,013,409 visually impaired persons.
Similarly, the Mental Hygiene Division of the Department of Health reported the prevalence rate of mental disorders as 36.44 per 1,000 in 1964-1965, and again in 1972, it reported that the prevalence rate of mental illness was 36 per 1,000. Both were almost 10 times the 1980 national population, making the estimated number of mentally impaired in the country over 2 million.
The relatively low prevalence rates reported in the 1980 National Survey were believed to be due to the lack of sensitive instruments used to recognize and measure the less obvious signs and symptoms of disability. Experts generally have more sensitive instruments to detect and measure disability, which may account for the higher prevalence rates observed in the small-scale focused surveys.
A nationwide registration was done in 1995 by the Department of Health in coordination with the member-agencies of the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons. The turnout was too low to generate accurate prevalence rates and other valuable information. This was repeated in 1997 and again it had a very low turnout. The two registrations utilized the CBR coordinators of the Department of Health as the manpower and no analysis was done due to the low turnout.
The 1990 and 1995 Census
Again in response to the demand for accurate data the following actions were taken by the government: the National Statistics Office upon request of the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons included in its 1990 Census of Population and Housing the disability concerns. The summary of the results showed that at the national level, for every 1,000 persons, 10 were with disability and the probability is that 6 of them are males. However, the results, according to informed sources are not recommended for use. Again, upon request of the NCWDP, the NSO included disability in its 1995 Census of Population and Housing.
The results of the 1995 Census showed that the total population of persons with various disabilities was 919,332. Considering that the total population of the country at that time was 68,617,000, the disabled population was 1.3%. The male population was comprised of 0.6% while female, also, 0.6%. The low vision had the highest prevalence rate of 4.0%.
The 1995 Census classified disabilities into the following:
The results of the 1995 Census, however, suffered the same fate with the 1980 National Disability Survey. For the program planners, service providers, rehabilitation professionals and students and even leaders of PWDs, the 1.3% percent prevalence rate was hardly acceptable. In some municipalities for example, where organizations of PWDs kept lists of their registered members, they were surprised to find that the 1995 data on PWDs did not conform to their lists. Many experts and users commented that this very big disparity between the U.N. Statistics that 10% of a given population and the 1995 statistics which was 1.3% of the total population was too much to be imagined and came to question the use of enumerators during the census as well as the instruments used to recognize and measure the less obvious signs and symptoms of disability.
The recently conducted 2000 National Census of Population is expected to provide a better and reliable statistics of persons with disability in as much as its preparation for the conduct gave much considerations to observe limitations, weaknesses and errors of the previous censuses and surveys as well as the criticisms and recommendations of experts and users. However, the result of the Census only registered 1.23 percent PWDs which is way below the prevalence rate estimated by the World health Organization.
With the inadequate database of PWDs inspite of previous attempts at coming up with a national registry and the low turn-out of PWDs during the latest national census conducted by the National Statistics Office, the PWD sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission presented to the President as one of their sectoral agenda the need to conduct a National Registry of PWDs. The Department of Health was therefore instructed to spearhead the registry in coordination with the national government agencies and local government units. The registry will become the basis for the government's package of health, social, economic, educational and other services for PWDs. This is expected to be conducted before the end of 2003.
The NCWDP Profiler System
The National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons the Philippine government's focal point for disability and mandated to develop policies, programs and monitor and evaluate all endeavors of NGAs, NGOs, POs as well as organizations of PWDs towards the total well-being of the sector with disability believes that its efforts may never be well founded without a comprehensive basis. It is for this view that an information machinery that would yield the needed data and information for every issue raised was developed. This is the PWD Profiler System which has been established to bridge the gap and set the foundation for a more concrete, usable, exhaustive and comprehensive mechanism that could respond to any current disability issue and concern.
The System shall generate basic information of PWD's personal data, location, literacy, education, occupational history, disability detail, rehabilitation, assistance received or needed and recreational activities.
It is designed to provide all possible data, searchable by and accessible to any user except detailed personal information which is deemed confidential and designed to be accessed only by PWD concerned and System administrators. It runs on a user-friendly environment, thereby requiring no complex computer knowledge in order to access the fields and download any data on record.
Researchers and browsers can only access the data on a read-only setup to prevent accidental deletion and or alteration of information. Data entry and modifications can only be made by PWD record owner of his/her trusted representative and System encoders (based in NCWDP, DSWD Field Offices and selected NGOs) through a log-in password menu to be filled-up upon access to the program.
The System will be fed with the data gathered by the newly-devised PWD Profiler Form, a tool that comprehensively inquires on viable information that will indispensably serve as basis for all programs, projects and activities of the Council and other concerned agencies and PWD organizations.
The need for this tool is significant in defining the Council's role as a focal point on all disability issues and concerns. The System provides the results to the Council and the ability to provide ready statistics and extensive details on Filipino PWDs during inquiries and planning sessions.
For purposes of immediate entry of the Profiler forms in the System, PWD Profiler Database replicas are deployed in Field Offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and in selected NGO and LGU offices. These region-based replicas shall serve as the Regional/Provincial/ City/Municipality Registry of PWDs, and indispensable information and assessment of all PWDs in the regions/localities.
The wide-range utility of the System speaks for the numerous benefits the PWDs and disability program implementors and policy makers could gain as follows:
Leaders of PWD organizations based in the localities shall be the focal enumerators among the members of their respective groups. The Provincial/City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Offices (P/C/MSWDOs) and other concerned local agencies shall initiate the distribution of PWD Profiler Forms to PWD leaders, as coordinated by the DSWD and Department of Interior and Local Government Field Offices. Filled-up forms are forwarded to the DSWD Field Offices (or other selected NGO/LGU offices that maintains a PWD Profiler replica) or directly to the NCWDP for immediate entry into the System. The Council's Regional Programs Coordinators oversee the flow of form distribution and retrieval in the regional and local levels.
The system is basic timeless and continuous program that will provide data to all sectors involved in the development of policies, programs, services towards the empowerment of Filipinos with disabilities and become partners in nation-building. It will provide the NCWDP the support to effectively perform its monitoring/evaluation function which is vital in its policy formulation and coordination mandates.
Copyright (c) 2003 UNESCAP