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Handicapped Population Rises by 0.5 Percent

Studies show marriage between first cousins more than doubles the chance of having a baby with potentially life-threatening birth defects and disabilities
Last year (ended in March), 20,000 jobs were created by SWO for the handicapped.Last year (ended in March), 20,000 jobs were created by SWO for the handicapped.

A total of 1.3 million people, approximately 2 in 100, live with some form of disability and are registered at the State Welfare Organization.

Of those, 65% are men and 35% are women, according to Hossein Nahvinejad, head of the SWO rehabilitation office.

Stating that annually the percentage of disabled people increases by 0.5% in the country, he said, “Road accidents, natural disasters, work-related accidents, age  and non-communicable diseases like diabetes, and high blood pressure are the main causes of the worsening rates,” IRNA reported.

Speaking on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of a SWO center for the hearing impaired in Qazvin on Saturday, he said “almost 14% of all people with disability suffer from hearing impairment and hearing loss.”

In addition to SWO, 100 nongovernmental organizations offer services to people with hearing problems.

The official criticized the meager employment rate of people with disabilities, claiming that the rate is hardly 3%.

“Last year (ended in March), 20,000 jobs were created by SWO for the handicapped. But more needs to be done,” Nahvinejad said, adding that the organization plans to provide vocational training for the disabled to improve their chances of getting jobs.

  Congenital Defects

The number of congenital hearing loss (caused by genetics) is high in Iran.

“It is for this reason that we are making every effort to make premarital genetic counseling mandatory. Genetic testing before marriage is integral to reducing the number of birth defects,” the SWO officials said.

Inter-family marriage and marriages between close relatives is a major contributor to the high rate of disabilities in Iran. Studies show marriage between first cousins more than doubles the chance of having a baby with potentially life-threatening birth defects and disabilities.

A link between cousin marriage and health problems, including heart and lung problems and recognized syndromes such as Down’s, linked to genetic inheritance, has been observed in communities around the world.

Currently, the rate of marriage within families is 12.6% in Iran, with the highest in Zanjan Province at 49.6%.

Preventive genetic services based on population screening are now an integral part of maternal and child health programs in many parts of the world. Mass screening and genetic counseling have been carried out widely, but they are not as effective as antenatal screening programs.

According to the World Health Organization, people with disabilities have the same health needs as non-disabled people – for immunization, cancer screening, etc. They also may experience a narrower margin of health, both because of poverty and social exclusion, and also because they may be vulnerable to secondary conditions, such as pressure sores or urinary tract infections.

Evidence suggests that people with disabilities normally face barriers in accessing health and rehabilitation services, more so when they are at the lower end of the economic ladder.

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