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A European strategy to protect Down’s syndrome children

December 9, 2011 3:11 PM

Liz Lynne MEP addressing the West Midlands region Lib Dem annual conferenceLib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne is backing a cross-party call in the European Parliament for more research into Down's syndrome and an EU-wide strategy to protect the rights of children born with the congenital condition.

The MEP for the West Midlands has signed a Written Declaration highlighting problems facing those born with Down's syndrome, which affects between one in 1000 and one in 600 children and is one of the commonest causes of learning disability.

Liz, who is Vice-President of the European Parliament's All-Party Disability Group as well as Vice-President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee said: "I welcome this cross-party attempt to protect the rights of children born with Down's syndrome.

"Though a serious condition with learning impairment and increased risk of heart disease, children given the best support can make enormous progress.

"In Britain, most children with Down's syndrome attend a mainstream primary school and many then go on to a mainstream secondary school, though it is important that a choice to opt for special education should remain open to parents. The picture is very variable in the rest of the EU.

"As the Declaration notes, the EU has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and it is important that member states give a high priority to giving children and adults with Down's syndrome the civil and economic rights they are entitled to.

"There clearly is scope to share research and best practice on the most successful models of support, to increase awareness and to encourage greater social inclusion."

"In later life, there also needs to be more work to ensure better job prospects, as less than one in five adults with Down's syndrome have a job. With guidance, employers can learn how to successfully employ people with Down's so they can make a full contribution to the workforce."

"The EU's Employment Directive created laws to ensure people with disabilities cannot be discriminated against in the workplace and employers must reasonably accommodate the needs of disabled people. We must ensure this is effectively implemented."

ENDS

Note: The Declaration, similar to an early day motion in Westminster, needs 369 signatures to be adopted by the European Parliament. The Down's Syndrome Association (DSA) in the UK and its European counterpart, EDSA, work to promote the needs of people with Down's syndrome. For details see
http://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk

0052/201 Written declaration on Down's syndrome children

The European Parliament - having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas it is estimated that the chance of a child being born with Down's syndrome is between 600 and 1000 to 1;
B. whereas Down's syndrome is one of the commonest genetic causes of learning disabilities;
C. whereas congenital anomalies are one of the main causes of infant mortality and long-term disability, and Down's syndrome children can suffer from numerous congenital disturbances, the most frequent being heart disease;
D. whereas Article 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states: 'The Union recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community';
E. whereas the EU has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which lays down universal minimum standards protecting and guaranteeing a whole range of civil, political, social and economic rights;
1. Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to:
- contribute to the social inclusion of Down's syndrome children by means of awareness-raising campaigns at national and European level;
- promote pan-European research into the treatment of this condition;
- draw up a Europe-wide strategy for protecting the rights of Down's syndrome children in the EU;
2. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission, the Council and the national authorities concerned.