Lack of services | No ‘appropriate tools for early identification of disabilities’

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Students from the Fiji Society for the Blind School. Picture: FILE

Services for children with disabilities in Fiji are limited that includes poor awareness of developmental disabilities, insufficient funding, lack of workforce and a fragmented referral systems, states a research published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

“The Journey to Early Identification and Intervention for Children with Disabilities in Fiji” was authored by Fleur Smith and Manjula Marella from the Nossal Institute for Global Health in Melbourne and Sureni Perera from Frank Hilton Organisation in Fiji. The researchers found Fiji doesn’t have appropriate tools for early identification of disabilities.

“Those services that exist are typically provided by civil society organisations or within a segregated system, rather than well-integrated into government systems,” states the authors.

“Regardless of the sector or whether services are provided by government or non-government organisations, adequate governance, guidance and co-ordination mechanisms remain necessary to ensure children with disabilities and families receive appropriate supports early and when they need them.

“However, implementing effective systems for early identification, intervention and support for young children with developmental delays and disabilities is complex, and little evidence exists on effective practices for co-ordinated care across sectors.

“The provision of care and support for children with disabilities typically involves multiple sectors including health, education, and social support services.

“But multi-sectoral collaboration to ensure co-ordinated, comprehensive support is frequently lacking.”

“This creates challenges for families navigating services and results in children with developmental disabilities falling through the cracks of service and support systems.”

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