COVID-19 Pandemic is ravaging the whole world and according to World Health Organization(WHO), persons with disabilities are more vulnerable at this time and they are also more at risk in contracting the virus. This has necessitated a lot of advocacy on the preventive measures PWDs should adopt to avoid getting infected.
in this vein, a renowned non-profit organization on disability issues, Independent Living for People with Disability(ILP) came up with a position paper on the preventive response for PWDs and a video to educate public to ensure disability inclusion in prevention response to COVID-19 and educating PWDs on the preventive measures to avoid being infected.
INDEPENDENT LIVING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY (ILP) POSITION PAPER ON COVID-19 PREVENTION RESPONSE.
The outbreak of Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19) and its spread to Nigeria came with multifaceted challenges with direct and severe impact on the health and economic infrastructures of the Nation. At the heart of the pandemic is the human cost, especially for the most vulnerable groups which include people with disabilities.
Our organization (ILP) has in the two decades of its existence been consistent in advocating for better welfare and inclusion of persons with disabilities with many laudable projects that include provision of mobility aid and appliances, gathering of data (we have data on over 23,000 persons with disability across the federation), we were an integral part of efforts that led to the passage of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018. We reaffirm our commitment to continual support of this disadvantaged group of people.
We by this medium remind our policy makers on the commitment of our nation to the welfare of people with disabilities and make specific reference to Part V of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, and cite section 25 part V which provides:
“In all situations of risk, violence, emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters, the Government shall take necessary steps to ensure the safety and protection of persons with disabilities taking cognizance of their peculiar vulnerabilities”
Nigeria is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is beholden to the comity of nations to act accordingly. We refer specifically to Article 11 of the convention which provides:
” States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters”.
Nigeria has shown a consistent commitment to the cause of people with disabilities and to achieve her objectives, partnerships with organizations with technical knowhow, proven track record of intervention and consistency is imperative.
(ILP) has since the beginning of this outbreak partnered with Disability Right Fund and produced Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials to encourage safety behavior. It has appropriated its resources and also partnered with well meaning individuals and delivered palliatives in form of food items and cash to people with disabilities.
We by this medium reiterate our commitment to work with and for government leveraging on our antecedents and commitments. We urge All stakeholders on the strength of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the desire to edify our common humanity, preserve the weak against the ravaging pandemic and emerge victorious against the pandemic COVID-19 by making all prevention responses disability – inclusive.
Please find below a list of COVID – 19 responses that are disability – Inclusive and friendly;
Persons with disabilities (PWD) have limited access to information on COVID -19 due to their impairments like visual and hearing impairments. In mitigating these diversities information should be made available in accessible formats such as recorded narratives, Braille and sign – language.
- SOCIAL DISTANCING
Social distancing creates inaccessibility to essential services for PWD, especially in care giving, wheelchair pushing e.t.c. it is therefore a better option for care givers to practice ‘Universal Precaution’ for example in addition to face mask, having a single use gloves that are properly disposed off.
- ORIENTATION FOR MEDICAL AND SUPPORT PERSONNEL
Training of Medical and Support Personnel to understand and adequately cater to the specific needs of PWD in addition to taking cognizance of how their disability interacts with COVID -19 infection and measures taken to mitigate their suffering and secondary reactions.
Interventions should recognize and be inclusive of PWDs; there should be virtual and physical access to palliatives that recognize their vulnerabilities and not put them under unnecessary stress like queuing with able bodied people
- SAFETY and WELFARE POLICIES
Policies should be disability – inclusive and set aside accessible services for PWDs
In the light of COVID – 19 pandemic and it’s severe impact on PWDs, other vulnerable people and indeed the general population; help to promote the ‘Mental Well- Being’ to prevent an Epidemic of Depression during post COVID – 19, through encouraging calls, whatsApp chats other media.
Watch the video below and understand the peculiar preventive response of COVID-19 for People with Disabilities