The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“excellence of making inclusion happen”
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our everyday lives upside down. Recently, its impact on persons with disabilities has been felt in almost all spheres of life.
More barriers on inclusion have been identified by different studies by by individuals with disabilities, organizations of persons with disabilities, governments and also other stakeholders.
For many reasons, people with disabilities are among the groups most at risk in this pandemic. Their often compromised health status means they have a high risk of adverse outcomes if they get the virus; their need for personal care and support with everyday living makes it more difficult to take effective precautions such as social distancing; and, the well-documented inability of health systems to respond adequately to people with disabilities means health services will struggle to provide them with quality care during the pandemic.
People with intellectual disabilities in particular will find it difficult to understand what is happening during this time and are very susceptible to isolation and loneliness. For some, the restrictions on visitors to family or group homes, and limited access or support to use online technology, have meant little or no contact with friends and family for months.
The same story is affecting blind and vision impaired persons. Not even many are aware the proper wearing of masks. Most adverts are too visual thus rendering communication barrier.
Needless to say, the role of health services in Kenya is by the county governments.
This has seen had failed to quickly recognize and respond to the greater risks of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, leaving this community disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Early emergency plans focused on older people. In Kenya we are yet to see disability specific pans or even outlined measures by both national and county governments on disability corona response.
Additionally, in other jurisdiction we have seen development of disability advisory committees which is quite important in ensuring article 4 of the UNCRPd is implemented.
We hope soon we can have a disability telephone help line dedicated towards addressing the challenges.
Some silver lining has been seen in some nations on the reopening up of economies by provision of disability inclusive plans and actions.
Will African countries follow same way or we shall ensure protection of rights of persons with disabilities ins not achieved?