THE GOVERNMENT TO CONSIDER THOSE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES DURING THIS PANDEMIC SEASON
OVERVIEW OF: THE GOVERNMENT TO CONSIDER THOSE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES DURING THIS PANDEMIC SEASON
On 16th April 2020, the Open institute through the Ability Programme hosted an online person with disabilities meeting to share and understand the key challenges relating to people with disabilities (PWD).
Through the meeting, it was clear that Kenyan with disabilities are facing several challenges with the measures put in place by the government to flatten the Covid curve.
Persons with disabilities have preexisting health conditions that make them susceptible to contracting the virus upon infection.
They experience more symptoms elevating the death levels. They have difficulties in getting the information, those who are visually impaired and even those with cognitive disabilities.
Keeping all people informed is key to the Covid-19 public health response, but information is not always accessible to the disability community, leaving them sidelined.
The disability community has been left out. The strategy of regular washing of hands is not feasible for people with physical disabilities.
These people despite their high risk of contracting the infection, their perspective is not included in the efforts to address inequalities in this response, including understanding the unique challenges of this community during this crisis.
PWD, an often-ignored health disparity population don’t get counted for critical allocation of resources and directing policies.
After the devolution of powers from the national level to the county level, people with disabilities have been recently appointed a county-level committees and commissions, a demonstration of an increased level of understanding and awareness in government and civil society as to the importance of inclusive governance.
Women and girls with disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence and abuse.
Fourth per cent of women and girls experience abuse in their lifetime although these numbers are hard to come across because many abuse instances are not reported. It’s hard for the disabled to take prudent steps to protect themselves.
According to KNBS 2019 census, Kenya has 918,270 persons aged 5 years and below with disabilities (hearing 11.48%, communication 8.33%, cognitive 15.92%, visual 24.96%, self-care 10.47%, mobility 28.84%)The government is yet to roll out mechanisms to get personal protective equipment to people with disabilities for free.
There’s an opportunity to change how we include people with disabilities. Covid-19 has elevated the conversation, and the legacy should be continued focus on disability disparities and constant efforts to address disability inequalities. This top-down approach is sufficient to bring about change.
Article by Ann Ndung’u
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