close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
March 21, 2020

Special measures for persons with disabilities demanded

Islamabad

March 21, 2020

Islamabad : On behalf of 2.8 million persons with disabilities all over the country, the disability rights organisations and activists have demanded the government to ensure disability rights and inclusion in the response to COVID-19.

Talking to ‘The News’, Director Special Talent Exchange Programme Atif Sheikh and CEO National Forum of Women with Disabilities Abia Akram said that little has been done to provide people with disabilities with the guidance and support needed to protect them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even though many of them are part of the high-risk group.

“People with disabilities feel they have been left behind," the "Containment measures, such as social distancing and self-isolation, may be impossible for those who rely on the support of others to eat, dress and bathe specially women and girls with disabilities," said Atif. "This support is basic for their survival, and States must take additional social protection measures to guarantee the continuity of support in a safe manner throughout the crisis."

He said that reasonable accommodation measures are essential to enable people with disabilities to reduce contacts and the risk of contamination. "Access to additional financial aid is also vital to reduce the risk of people with disabilities and their families falling into greater vulnerability or poverty.”

Abia Akram said that the situation of women with disabilities in NIRM, psychiatric facilities and prisons is particularly grave, given the high risk of contamination and the lack of external oversight, aggravated by the use of emergency powers for health reasons.

“Limiting their contact with loved ones leaves people with disabilities totally unprotected from any form of abuse or neglect in institutions. States have a heightened responsibility towards this population due to the structural discrimination they experience."

She said that persons with disabilities deserve to be reassured that their survival is a priority and urged States to establish clear protocols for public health emergencies to ensure that, when medical resources are scarce, access to healthcare, including life-saving measures, does not discriminate against people with disabilities.

"To face the pandemic, it is crucial that information about how to prevent and contain the coronavirus is accessible to everyone," she said.

Atif demanded that public advice campaigns and information from national health authorities must be made available to the public in sign language and accessible means, modes and formats, including accessible digital technology, captioning, relay services, text messages, easy-to-read and plain language. "Organizations of people with disabilities should be consulted and involved in all stages of the COVID-19 response," he said.

The Disability Media and Communication Expert for STEP, Imran Karim Khattak said that persons with disabilities must receive information about infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans, and the services offered, in a diversity of accessible formats with use of accessible technologies and additional protective measures must be taken for people with certain types of impairment.

He said that all preparedness and response plans must be inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities and no disability-based institutionalisation and abandonment is acceptable. He also said that measures of public restriction must consider persons with disability and during quarantine, support service, personal assistance, physical and communication accessibility must be ensured.

Imran said that need of health services due to COVID19 cannot be deprioritised on the ground of their disability and demanded that the OPDs can and should play a key role in raising awareness of persons with disabilities and their families.