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Attend to People with Disabilities (PWDs).
21 May, 2020
Within the vast majority of low-income or poor people, we find large minority groups of People with Disabilities (PWDs). Disability is a condition which limits the movement or activities of a person. It includes immobility, blindness, low vision, hearing impairment, muteness, mental retardation and mental illness. In many cases, People with Disabilities (PWDs) live in isolation without the basic services that fit their conditions.
In the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PWDs face a higher risk than people without disability, especially in Africa. Their physical or mental conditions may expose them to a high risk of COVID-19 due to various factors. Usually, there are people in communities that provide generous support to the PWDs. However, the social distancing measures to avoid the risk of infection may force these voluntary service providers to distance themselves from the PWDs. Under such a situation, it is difficult for PWDs to access some essential services. For instance, for blind people, it is challenging to practice social distancing rules without the support of others. For paraplegic/ immobile and deaf-blind people fetching water from shared water points located far from their residence is impossible. Unless they are helped by others, getting health-care services and food supplies can be a challenge, particularly during lockdowns imposed by the national governments.
Accordingly, the impact of COVID-19 is likely to be worse for the poor PWDs than for other poor people without disabilities. Consequently, they can be severely affected by COVID-19 due to their unique circumstances. To meet the challenges of the PWDs, the COVID-19 plans of African countries should give special considerations to the needs of the PWDs. Among others, the countries need to acquire adequate information/data about the PWDs and assess the status of all the essential services necessary in fighting and controlling the spread of COVID-19. Accordingly, the SDGC/A suggests the following action points that the national governments and the respective service providers need to consider.
- Ensure the presence of appropriate information and messages sharing system about COVID-19 that takes into account the individual needs of the PWDs.
- Eliminate physical (distance) and financial (costs) barriers that hinder PWDs accessing essential services like health-care places and WASH facilities.
- Provide separate and proper functioning toilets to protect PWDs from the transmission of the virus from other infected people.
- Ensure the availability of uninterrupted water and electricity services.
- Arrange to give priority to PWDs affected by COVID-19 in accessing health-care services and food supplies.
- Establish a community-level support system for PWDs that can help in accessing essential services during the COVID-19.
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