Why the Blind in Kenya should be categorized as “Severe disabled” Author Mugambi Paul

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”

 

 

 

Several studies and literature have given definition of who should be severely disabled.

In the Kenyan context policy makers and stakeholders have arguably claimed that those under 24 hours care are supposedly entitled to this school of thought [Kenyan social protection strategy, cash transfer annual [.

Times have really changed. The current review being spearheaded by the social assistance programme by several development partners and the ministry of social protection should ensure the new social policy becomes more inclusive and in-depth.

 since I would like to make a case for the Blind.

Am not making this debate as a mere fact that myself am a blind person but with several scholarly arguments, observations and reasons base on Bing a public policy scholar and with lived disability experience.

To begin with social protection mechanisms which A Kenya has gradually been adapting have not been in compliant with the UNCRPD 2006, ILO standards, which Kenya adopted Kenya constitution article 27 on matters discrimination.

This is to say social protection is supposed to be inclusive for all.

The co values in chapter 10 need to be respected.

In other words, the new social policy needs to align itself with the current trends of inclusiveness and not living any one behind.

My second argument is based on the premises that most social protection programmed set aside for the defend sectors have not been Blind friendly at all.

For instance, since the start of the national youth service programme in 2013 no Blind persons has ever been admitted.

Du’a’’s we have Blind youth who can serve the nation?

Should the national youth service curriculum be revised to ensure Blind are recognized?

 

The proponents of this programme will argue that service men and women needed for this programme are supposed to use sight. Then where do the Blind youth go?

This affirms that Blind are more vulnerable and lack opportunities.

Additionally, the cash transfer programme has denied entry of individuals who are blind despite Poverty being a twin sister of blindness [world blind union 2004[.

Thirdly most job advertisements in Kenya have discriminatory practices of saying that people should have a driving license.

moreover, even most agencies both public and non-state actors who claim to thrust the gospel of inclusion also have joined the fray! Where and how does a blind Kenyan get driving license?

I am also eager to get one.

Organizations of persons with disabilties and self-advocates have been silent on this matter!

Fourthly several studies and media reports have confirmed that most beggars are blind persons. Where do you think the blind men and women who never got an opportunity to join higher institutions are?

Other than those who are hidden in their houses, you will obviously meet the blind beggars.

Apparently, The Kenya union of the Blind had a Sacco for this individual. Don’t you think its high time the beggar’s Sacco got a boost from financial partners?

Furthermore, the beggars have families who relight on them.

Academicians and researchers need to put their minds together and unravel the begging angle so us to enable the understanding of its social economic impacts in the society.

Fifthly, the largest group of blind persons are the beggars who have actually not gotten even basics of education, most do not have even access to white canes and most are also denied even to see the sunlight.

 

Never the less, after Citizen’ tv airing of the Begging story mid-year, a debate in the disability circle got underway but never provided a conclusive answer rather the argument centered on why persons with disabilities should not be associated with begging profession.

According to several media reports Nairobi, Mombasa, Meru and other counties have made several attempts to kick out the beggars in the vicinity but this seems to be a thorn in the flesh. Beggars keep on coming back. Some argue most are Tanzanians while others claim they are individuals who have not been served by the community.

Isn’t right time Kenya offering a permanent solution by providing social protection to the unemployed blind persons and recognize them as severely disabled?

The individuals, institutions who are currently tasked to represent the Blind need to rise up and author several policy statements to kick start   the voyage of empowerment of the blind.

All in all, blind persons in Kenya deserve to live in a respectable and dignified manner just like any other human being.

The White cane escapades. Guest author:

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

Dear stranger who passes me on the street,

I

It seems a little strange, addressing a letter to you, even though I haven’t walked alone anywhere in the past six months, but I am an eternal optimist

(a terrible flaw, I know), and hold hope that I will be able to do so someday again. At the outset, I would like to clarify one thing, regardless of whether

you are the-stranger-who-have-actually-passed-me-on-the-street or stranger-who-might-do-so-one-day.

 

Every

 White Cane Day

 till date, I have mostly written articles on the mechanics of using a white cane and how it works, or introspective essays on what the white cane means

to me (short answer: independence). This white cane day, however, I would like to remind you that, in order to have independent and enjoyable travel experience,

it is not enough to have or use a white cane merely.

 

The people I encounter while travelling and their attitudes also determine whether my travel is stress-free. I would like to now turn my attention to micro-aggressions

that are frequently directed toward me as I travel alone as a woman with a disability. Without further ado, here are some dos and don’ts for the passer-by.

 

First of all, let me tell you, it is absolutely inappropriate to stop me in the middle of the street and make comments such as “My sister’s son is blind

too! He is amazing!” or “I pray for people like you every day.” Don’t you realize I’ve got things to do and places to be, just like everyone else? Consider

it your lucky day if I don’t retort with “I meet hundreds of insensitive random strangers like you all the time. Shocking, Isn’t it?”

 

Secondly, it is equally inappropriate to grab me as I walk, without my express permission to guide me. If you really think I need help, the best thing

you can do is to ask me if I do (politely and calmly, now). Grabbing someone who is just walking around, and minding her own business, is completely unjustifiable.

Really, haven’t you heard anything about consent? Or is it that you don’t think it applies equally to a disabled body as a nondisabled one? You might have

good intentions, but how would I know that? You wouldn’t ever dream of grabbing a nondisabled woman in that way, would you?

 

Next, if you do ask me whether I need help, and the answer is no, walk away, even if your instinct urges you to push it. I am the one who decides if, when

and from whom to accept help, not you. Moreover, I am under no obligation to explain to you why I do not want your help. You asked, I answered, you walk

on—end of the story.

 

Now, if there comes a situation where you are going to guide me (regardless of whether you offered help or I asked for it), either offer me your elbow,

as people generally should when a sighted person guides a blind person, or take my non-cane hand. For me, since I am right-handed, my left hand would be

the one you are expected to take. Please, please please, do not hold my cane or lift it up from the ground.

 

The whole point of having a cane with me is that it will sweep the ground in front of me and alert me to obstacles in my way. I need it, whether or not

you are guiding me. Don’t force me to engage in a tug of war with you in the middle of the street, with you on one end of the cane, and me on the other.

It is highly undignified.

 

Next, the brief moments in which you help me from one side of the street to the other, are not exactly the right ones to ask questions about blindness

in general or me in particular. Like I mentioned before, things to do and places to be. General questions such as how I use my phone, how blind people

travel, etc., are best addressed to Google. After all, you Google everything else, so why not this?

 

Answers to specific questions such as how I became blind, whether I was born blind or became blind, etc., are part of my personal story, which I am under

no obligation to share in the middle of the busiest 80 ft Road. Essentially, what I am trying to say, is that I do not live for the express purpose of

teaching you what blind people can do, or how we do things.

 

An offer of help shouldn’t come with an expectation that I will answer your questions in return. I realize that this is perhaps the first time you are

ever meeting or talking to a blind person, but you might not be the first or even fifth person I would have met over the course of that day to ask me these

questions, and it can get old really soon.

 

Next, it is also not your place to make comments such as “people like you should stay at home.” Or, my favorite “Where are your parents?” As I am an adult

travelling by herself, these questions are not necessary, to say the least, and are better kept to yourself. Don’t force me to reply with “none of your

business!”

 

Finally, if you are a person with strong religious beliefs, specifically about a cure, please do not stop me and tell me to pray to so-and-so deity, perform

so-and-so poojas, or read so-and-so portions of the bible. The fact that you think all disabled people need to be cured is in itself highly ableist.

 

Therefore, don’t blame me if I, equally politely, ask you to read up on ableism and the very contentious issue of cure. Same goes for those people who

believe in certain doctors, alternative medicines, or any other cure. I am not a broken doll that needs to be fixed. I am a person who celebrates her blind

body and all that it entails. And of course, it goes without saying that the middle of the street is certainly not the place to be debating these things.

 

The above is not an exhaustive list of the types of micro-aggressions I encounter, but merely the most annoying ones. This White Cane Day, I urge you to

keep these in mind and cooperate with the disabled community, as we try to create less stressful travel experiences for all.

Why Covid-2019 should not slam doors of disability evolution! “Corona don’t live us behind!” Author Mugambi Paul

he opinions 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, in the first half-year of its existence, has impacted the lives of most people on Earth in one way or another. It is the first truly global pandemic in modern times and each of us has been forced to grapple with its effects, both individually and collectively.  persons with disabilities around the world continue to be disproportionately affected and feel the heat.

 With this notwithstanding, the negative societal effects COVID-19 has wrought is written all over the world, in many cases, been even more profound when viewed through the lens of persons with disabilities and these impacts have been aggravated even further in countries dealing with humanitarian crisis.

Furthermore, Persons with disabilities living in humanitarian set ups already deal with increased health challenges, exacerbated threats to their security, and societal marginalization that negatively impacts nearly every facet of their lives. In some cases, that marginalization comes from misconceptions that disability is somehow contagious and should be shunned; more frequently, though, it is the result of the broad assumption that persons with disabilities must be cared for and kept in restrictive environments for their “protection” — robbing them of basic dignity and the fundamental opportunity to explore and realize their personal potential. Though disability inclusion efforts have started to gain global momentum in recent years in several countries in which the international NGOS and local partners work.

 now with the current new trends of the Covid pandemic and its attendant social restrictions — persons with disabilities in these fragile contexts are at risk of being pushed even further to the periphery of their communities, potentially negating any progress that had been made.

In other words, I opine persons with disabilties can’t experience the ne norm since Corona has even worsen the situation.

Despite being a population that is particularly-risk prone to COVID-19, persons with disabilities face even greater inequalities in accessing basic services including healthcare, education, employment and social protection during the pandemic. This could erode all the positive developments that the world has recorded in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

While there are certainly very legitimate Covid-related health concerns specific to persons with disabilities affect the immune system, lung function or other related factors that can put them at higher risk for serious complications.

Additionally, the lack of latest data statistics also contributes to the poor outcomes on planning and service delivery to both development and humanitarian sectors.

More over most of the service delivery tend to focus on one particular disability and thus marginalization of the marginalized.

For instance, most of the time persons with psychosocial and intellectual impaired are not considered in different activities.

In accessing information its also highly pronounced among the Blind, Deaf blind etc.

 – perhaps the bigger, less personally-controllable risks they face are related to the very seclusion from which they have spent so many years trying to break free. Just as they have begun to find the first tiny openings in their ability to access education or gain regular employment or even play sports, the isolation necessitated by the pandemic threatens to slam those doors closed once again. The real danger, though, is that the doors will remain closed even after the pandemic is under control because its imminent threat will have caused societies already reeling from the instability of war and conflict to forget about prioritizing the inclusion of persons with disabilities and building into their culture.

As a public policy diversity and inclusion expert I take note of for persons with disabilities, the ability to achieve economic security and independence has very often been a goal kept out of reach by a variety of societal assumptions about their ability – or inability – to reliably fulfill professional requirements, their perceived increased rate of health-related absences or a host of other preconceptions. Now, just as these misconceptions are starting to be proven wrong by persons with disabilities more often entering the work forces in many countries, the economic impact of the pandemic on the global and local economies could be devastating for their collective progress.

The sustainable development goal theme of not living any one behind might become a mirage if nations don’t take necessary measures to caution men, boys, girls and women with disabilties.

I affirm what is necessary to stop this temporary barrier from becoming a long-term regression is the commitment from all sections of society – governments, employers, educational institutions, healthcare providers, among others – in countries all over the world to continue prioritizing disability inclusion efforts. This is not only essential to create opportunities for persons with disabilities, but it will also benefit societies, economies, business, etc., by bringing the vast potential of a population estimated at over 1 billion people into the fold. Many studies have shown that companies and organizations that prioritize hiring persons with disabilities have a positive impact on profits and better corporate culture. For example, U.S. companies that excel at disability employment and inclusion are four times more likely to deliver higher shareholder returns than their competitors, according to a 2018 study by Accenture.

 

only way real change will happen is if they are supported by the commitment of the broader societies in which they work.

Disability inclusion will survive the coronavirus pandemic only if everyone believes it is a necessary social evolution and acts accordingly to support its growth. If this can happen, not only will people with disabilities transcend the societal impacts of COVID-19, but the communities, businesses, universities and organizations that push for their inclusion will grow and improve as well.

 

Shielding rights of persons with disabilities Author Mugambi Paul

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?

 

 

 

Parents, You Matter!” Guest author Alison

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 

I have been thinking hard about how important a parent is in the life of a special needs child…

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about autism. It’s been a crazy season – being home, working from home, and helping the kids with their schoolwork, etc. There is something I have learnt during this season, though. Parents are very important. Parents matter. Parents are special people.

Parents, let me encourage you today.

You know your child better than anyone else

Picture this. You take your child for a therapy session, and they are crying all through. The therapist tells you that things will get better with time, but at the next session, things are the same. You try a few more sessions, and nothing changes. Then you start to notice that your child cries every time you are leaving for the therapist’s clinic, or every time the therapist is just about to get to your house for a session. At this point, you, as the parent, make an executive decision and stop the sessions. Why? Because you know your child best.

I have been there. I have had to make this decision several times. Initially, I felt that I should have tried just one more time, then I realized that it was up to me to make sure that my child was happy and at peace. Nobody else could have done it for me.

You communicate best with your child

Maybe your child is not yet speaking. Maybe you are longing to hear that first word. Can you tell, however, when your child is sad? Can you tell when he or she wants to have a meal or go to the bathroom? Most likely you can, especially when nobody else can tell what your child is trying to communicate.

How does this help? Imagine you go for a therapy session, and the therapist asks your child to do something. Your little one does not respond, and the therapist is stuck. You then offer to try and talk to your child, explaining the instructions. He or she quickly responds by doing what the therapist has asked. Do you see what I mean? Parents always know how to communicate with their kids.

Parents, don’t beat yourself up just because your child is not speaking. There are other ways that kids can communicate like sign language, using technology, writing, using pictures, etc. Find the best way to communicate with your child.

You want to help your child out of love

Nobody wants your child to acquire skills as much as you do. Nobody understands how important it is for your child to be independent like you do. Your love for your child is what drives you to hire therapists, follow the home program, buy equipment, etc.

You may, however, find that the people you hire to help your child are doing it for the money. Others may be doing their job just because it is a job, not because they love working with your child. The bottom line is, your love for your child is what will drive you to keep going, to keep learning, to keep training, and to keep waiting patiently for a skill to be mastered.

I just want to encourage a parent here. The world will not always accept our children for who they are. It is up to us to show them how to love children who are abled differently, and to show them that being different is not a bad thing. Also, surround yourself with like-minded people, people who will support you on your parenting journey, people who will love and accept your child just as they are, and people who may even offer to watch your child while you catch a breather!

You are your child’s greatest resource

Parents, you are your child’s greatest resource. You provide them with love and care. You make sure their environment is conducive to learning. You purchase all that they need for therapy, school, etc. You feed them and clothe them. You teach them the things that only a parent can. You pay for therapy sessions and school. Parents, you rock!

In this season when accessing services is hard, I believe that parents can still do something with their children. What have seen your therapist do that you can do at home? Find out what activities your child can do to improve in areas in which he or she has challenges. For example, if your therapist has mentioned fine motor skills in the past, look for videos with fine motor activities you can do at home. Also, for those who are doing teletherapy, it’s important to remember that a good session works best when you are there to help with setup, resources, etc. You can also opt to get a therapist to come up with a good home program for your child which you will implement.

See how important you are, dear parents?

One last thing, though. You need to recharge from time to time otherwise you will burn out. Find a way to catch a break whenever possible. You need it.

 

How Do Disabled People Feel About Discussing Their Disabilities? Guest author A Pulrang

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 

 

 

For people with disabilities, talking about our disabilities is complicated.

Sometimes, when people ask their perennial questions, or just look at us in a certain way, we can almost hear them say it:

“Go on! Do that thing you do, where you remind me how my own little problems aren’t so bad. Do that ‘inspiration’ thing that makes me feel better about myself for admiring you.”

What does it mean when a wheelchair user speaks at a political convention? What does it mean when a blind person gives a motivational speech, when an amputee engages students or employees on “disability awareness?” What does it mean when any disabled person, in the ordinary course of their day, is asked to explain their disability, or tell their disability “story?” And what does it mean when the disabled person tells their story? And what does it mean when they say, “No, not today. Not here. Not for you. I’m not here to be your inspiration.”

From a non-disabled point of view, it must sometimes seem like we disabled people can’t make up our minds. That’s because the whole subject is fraught with conflicting choices, each with pluses, minuses, and even moral implications.

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Do we raise awareness, or mind our own business? Do we welcome questions from the curious, or draw clear boundaries to guard our privacy. If we want a better world for disabled people, what is our own obligation to further that goal? Will we share our most profound experiences and thoughts about disability, and for what purpose — or whose?

Some of us are quite anxious to tell our stories to anyone who will listen. It can make us feel less alone with our burdens and traumas. Some of us draw strength and purpose from telling our stories of triumph over adversity, dispelling myths about disability, or advocating for better disability policies and political power for disabled people. Despite popular rhetoric about “not letting disability define us,” a great many of disabled people do organize much of our lives around our disability experiences and identity, and we do it intentionally, joyfully.

PROMOTED

At the same time, disabled people have mixed feelings about sharing our experiences with others. We all have different ideas about the pros and cons of sharing our stories, raising awareness, and “educating” non-disabled people about disability. And what we think about it can change from day to day, from person to person, and situation to situation.

To understand how disabled people struggle with these questions of sharing, educating, advocating, you need to explore some of the positives and negatives we juggle every day.

Positives

First, some disabled people find sharing their disability stories therapeutic. Many who were disabled later in life need to tell how they became disabled. And talking about our disabilities and everyday struggles with ableism can help all of us clarify how we feel about our disabilities.

While few of us like to admit it, many of us do in fact crave sympathy or at least empathy. Getting a positive, supportive response to our disability stories can be validating. It can, at least in the short term, compensate for some of the negativity and unvarnished prejudice we encounter regularly. And genuine empathy can actually make our lives easier by reducing misunderstandings and judgment.

There is also the practical benefit, or necessity, of sharing something about our disabilities in order to get help and accommodations that we need to survive, and that can help level the playing field for our ambitions. Having to reveal private information in order to obtain equal opportunity is a constant burr in our sides. But it is the most consistently beneficial payoff for this awkward exchange.

Finally, some of us choose to embrace being spokespeople of sorts for the disability community, and the cause of disability rights and justice. Some disabled people commit themselves to advocacy, motivational speaking, writing, and educating the public … all of which call for some degree or another of personal sharing. These commitments can give purpose to a disabled person’s life, if purpose is missing or uncertain. It can give meaning to a person’s disability, if meaning is important to them. For some of us, it’s also a living, and a potentially useful one.

The benefits available to disabled people for sharing our stories, experiences, and feelings are fairly familiar. It’s the negatives people tend to forget, but that are constantly on disabled people’s minds, precisely because they are so common and cut so deep so often.

Negatives

For a start, constantly retelling our disability stories can be a seductive trap. We tell it again and again, sometimes on request, or else in search of some resolution that never comes. We stagnate or worse, spiral further into depression and trauma. Also, other people’s curiosity about disability and disabled people’s stories tends to have a very short shelf-life. While they start out craving answers and compelling narratives, most people quickly get sick of them, especially if they fail to fascinate or uplift. Regardless, fixation on our own personal stories also makes it less likely that we will discover the broader disability community and disability issues, and that is a real loss.

Another problem is that many of us quickly come to realize how easily the visibility we craved for so long, and we finally seem to be getting, can be misused, no matter how carefully we craft our messages. As any disabled person who has addressed a political audience can attest, you never know just how much of your specific message gets through, and how much is drowned in a sea of sentimental responses to our very presence. Do audiences come away with a new understanding of health care, or home care, or accessibility? Or do they leave uplifted or amazed at how articulate the disabled speaker was, and how brave?

The most important thing to remember, but so many people miss, is that sharing our stories and educating people about disability always costs us something. The novelty of attention and praise eventually wears off, and you find yourself giving and giving, with little in return. Even if you are being paid … and far too many disabled public figures aren’t paid for what they give … sharing yourself, your passion, and your hopes with strangers takes a toll. And even the best audiences have little ability to give back.

Yet, disabled people are often expected to share our stories and enlighten others on disability matters … as if it’s our unique duty and special mission in life as people with disabilities. A calling is a personal choice. A duty is more of an imposition. A lot of people don’t understand the difference. On the personal level, friendly curiosity about our disabilities can quickly turn to sour resentment when we don’t immediately satisfy it. And demanding to be “educated” is often used as a “put up or shut up” answer to being called out for accessibility failures or other kinds of ableism. If we don’t agree to open ourselves up at all times and give free education, then ongoing ableism is implied to be our fault.

So, when is it okay, and when is it inappropriate to ask disabled people for their stories, or for help on disability issues?

Situations

Obviously, it depends partly on what kind of relationship you have with the disabled person. It’s rarely if ever appropriate to ask a disabled person you don’t know to tell their story, or explain intricacies of the disability experience to you. Asking a coworker or casual acquaintance may be alright, if you do it with care and listen for signs of receptiveness or reticence. You can deepen your relationship with family or close friends with disabilities, by inviting them to share deeper experiences and feelings. But this kind of closeness should never be mistaken for open-ended permission. Having a family or professional connection to disability isn’t a special permit to pry. Neither is having a disability yourself. A disabled person may trust you more if you’re disabled too,, but your disability status doesn’t guarantee access.

It also depends on the time and setting. Certain subjects and avenues of conversation are appropriate in some places and occasions, out of place in others, and totally bizarre or even creepy in still others. Think of how doctors and lawyers feel when people at cocktail parties ask them for medical or legal advice. It’s often like that for disabled people. We feel like everyone’s public encyclopedia of all things disability. No place is taboo, no subject off limits. At any moment, we can be prayed over in the frozen foods aisle, asked in a coffee shop how we have sex, or grilled in the lunchroom on which disability terminology we use.

If you want to engage with disabled people, and learn about disability issues and culture, that’s great! Please do both. But remember that each disabled person is an individual, and we each make our own decisions, using our own criteria, for when and how we want to share, explain, and educate others, from perfect strangers to those closest to us.

In the end, sorting the good from the bad, the appropriate from the burdensome, isn’t that complicated after all. It’s a bit like intimacy and consent. Talking about disability with disabled people can be enormously rewarding for both parties, but only when the disabled person is a willing participant. While some of us consciously choose to be as open and forthcoming as possible, none of us feels that way all of the time.

Above all, no disabled person should ever feel obligated to share, or shamed for not sharing. this is also my school of philosophy . as a Public policy diversity and inclusion expert I celebrate diversity in full.

Dream of Corona from a Disability lense Author Mugambi Paul

With the recent occurrence and high prevalence rate of Covid 2019 in Kenya having recorded over 32 thousand cases in August 22nd.

I wish to retaliate what front line soldiers and policy makers need to put in place to ensure those individuals with disabilities and those who are acquiring a disability in this period are well taken care of and granted the best of serf=vices.

 

The Kenyan health workers should

  • Know about people’s rights
  • Protect people’s rights

People should get the health care they need during coronavirus.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a law that protects the rights of people with disability around the world.

The Convention is called the CRPD for short.

The CRPD says discrimination is never ok. CRPD says people with disability

  • Have the same rights as other people
  • Must be respected

The CRPD says people with disability have the right to

  • Be included in their community
  • Make their own decisions and

During a pandemic some rights are very important.

  • The right to life
  • Good health and health care
  • Information like Easy Read.
  • People with disabilities deserve to get treatment and medication just like other persons.

People with disability have the right to make choices about their health.

This includes having support to make choices. Supports include

  • Aids like a cane or wheelchair
  • Support workers or family

Communication:

People disability have the right to communicate how they choose.

  • Kenyan sign language
  • Braille
  • Easy Read

Plain language.

Last to be served last one to eat: Author Mugambi paul

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”

Globally, Evidence is emerging that persons with disabilities are being disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and emergency policy measures being undertaken are not enough.

This is to say the marginalization that existed before covid is still being multiplied and increased due to lack of inclusive disability response starting from the world health organization and the governments.

 

The COVID-19 crisis is taking a grim toll on human lives across the globe. Although the complete impact is yet to be fully comprehended. The coronavirus pandemic has changed almost every aspect of normal life, from grocery shopping to work, from exercising to socialising. While the changes, brought on by fear of infection and the state-mandated quarantine –– which has been in place in Kenya since March 20 –– are difficult and inconvenient for everyone, for those living with disabilities across Kenya, the virus crisis has posed a unique threat to their ability to access basic healthcare, education and to their own individual autonomy. 

 the risk the pandemic

is exposing for gains made towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is becoming evident. What this global emergency is also revealing, is that

these 17 goals are, in fact, our best option to recover better and to overcome similar crises in the future.  

Policy statements need to manifest in concrete action.

In other words, inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities is essential to ensuring that persons with disabilities are not left behind.

 

 

 As governments rush to respond to the virus, it is more critical than ever to guarantee that measures taken are fully inclusive.

 

 

of persons with disabilities and prevent human rights violations from taking place. More importantly several studies from the UN body, research institutions, disability sector, individual testimonies and government have shown no disability desegregated data has been recorded up to date. Disability is prevalent throughout Kenyan society, though that prevalence isn’t always represented in policy-making. No less than 15. 10 percent of the population of Kenya lives with a permanent difficulty or limitation, according to organization of persons with disabilities data.

 Additionally, disability is present in 2.2 percent of Kenyan households, according to official data of KBs 2019 census. 

 

 

As a public policy scholar am yet to understand why governments are able to give geographical location, gender age and not disability desegregated data !

Is this not a form of exclusion?

At least 70,000 Americans with disabilities have died in the last 120 days without being on the radar. Those in nursing homes are referred to as ‘elderly,’

with ‘underlying conditions,’ or ‘vulnerable.’ These are euphemisms that avoid using the word “disability”. This diminishes and ignores civil rights protections

for millions.

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Policy makers need to realize that when persons with disabilities are not being counted, they are being locked out of interventions.

The distribution of the cake needs to be served in an inclusive manner.

 

For many countries in Africa they have formed emergency response committees with uyt representation of persons with disabilities.

Should disability persons organization publish experts with disabilties since governments have failed to ensure representation?

Persons with disabilities in low income countries face substantial challenges in terms of achieving self-representation,[1] inclusive employment[2] and integrated education.[3] The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)[4] outlines a framework for the inclusion and self-advocacy of persons with disabilities, while the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commit to ensure that global development processes are disability inclusive.

 

 

 

Moreover, several general protocols have been made but without any reference on how interventions will be carried out for persons with disabilities.

Additionally, after 4 months of COVID  2019 several countries have started to some sort of disability protocols, of which they contain minor concerns of persons with impairments.

 

Its only south Africa who have made major attempt of having disability inclusive response protocols and interventions.

Obviously, this is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done to ensure no one is left behind.

Likewise, in other countries like in Kenya having sign language interpretor on the TV screen during the Corona state address seem to be an already concluded assumption that they have addressed the communication and inaccessible information gaps.

Does this mean that all persons with disabilities have accessed the information?

the Kenyan social protection policies seem to be driven ‘smoothing

out’ variations in incomes over the lifecycle, I argue  that ‘the dominant effect

of social spending in the Kenya is to redistribute income across people’s own life. For example the recently launched “Kazi kwa mtaa programme”

aids citizens to pay taxes of what they have.

 

The policy brief offers 4 recommendations on how governments can best mitigate the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis and protect informal workers:

list of 4 items

  • Continuing emergency income support for workers and businesses operating in the informal economy 
  • Reforming social-assistance schemes to extend beyond the poor—both horizontally and vertically—to ensure that the “missing middle” will have access to

them

  • Ensuring that social-assistance measures are a part of a larger relief package and include loan repayments, rent and utilities payments, and tax breaks

on essential goods

  • Safeguarding women’s access to these benefits

list end

On the other hand, In the book Good Times, Bad Times challenges popular misconceptions about the welfare state

. The book deconstructs the view that ‘welfare’ is exclusively

about out-of-work benefits and that those who are in receipt of such benefits are

somehow ‘other’ to the rest of ‘working Britain’ (a term favored by our current

political leaders). Hills challenges these misconceptions with detailed evidence

demonstrating that in fact we all benefit from the welfare state over the life-course,

getting back what we put into the system. The welfare system in Kenya and most African countries

covers universal entitlements such as education, health care, pension provision, and

youth protection except for the very wealthy), and as such it is something that all of us

make use of at varying points in our lives: when we have children; when we become

unwell; when we need healthcare; and when we grow old.

Hills explains that whilst the welfare system is redistributive (poorer households

do get more out of the system and richer households put more in), the system is

also redistributive for individuals over the span of their own lives – so effectively

he argues that we are all paying for own services and benefits in a kind of ‘savings

bank’ (67). This is the case for all families, with even the poorest 10th of the population

paying in half of what they take out. The rich contribute more because of

the principles that the system was founded on: that benefits and services should go

to people according to their need (as opposed to whether they can pay for it); and

that the taxes we pay should be in proportion to our incomes.

 

In the COVID-19 pandemic, persons with disabilities may face heightened risks, such as increased exposure rates, due to numerous barriers in the humanitarian response. For example, barriers in accessing life-saving information, protective measures and other essential humanitarian services on an equal basis with others. Gaps in the preparedness and response plans increase these risks even further. 

As we hurtle towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals deadline, governments are accelerating investments in both social protection and disability and gender equality. This presents

an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how social protection can not only reduce poverty, but also contribute to disability mainstreaming. Disability mainstreaming is

vital to achieve sustainable poverty reduction through social protection. In turn, poverty reduction, for instance, through greater income equality and

security provided through well-designed social protection promotes disability inclusion.  

Social protection, particularly in the form of cash benefits, has already proven its ability to 

address multi-dimensional and intergenerational poverty for persons with disabilities of particular are men, boys, women and girls with disabilities

 in different contexts, including increasing women’s savings and investments in productive assets or improving girls’ school enrolment and attendance. Yet, this

potential can also be belied if programmes are poorly designed or executed, resulting in further entrenching prevailing gender inequalities. More needs

to be done to understand how and why programme design and implementation can either strengthen or worsen impacts for women and girls.  

  1. All means all! we cannot have proper digital inclusion if we leave people behind;
  2. We need stronger connections between schools, families and students because connections lead to commitment

list end

 

       

What lessons can African nations learn?

We need to activate disability emergency mode when the glbe is doingit not just to react after the race has already kicked off.

We may have lost many persons with disabilties either through hunger, loneliness, lack of health services, covid itself and other preexisting conditions.

Organizations of persons with disabilities need to ensure duty bearers accountable to them and if need be seeking legal address. For instance. 

Over 1,000 web accessibility lawsuits have been filed in 2018.

Companies like Nike and Amazon are being sued for failing to make their content accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and low vision users.

       

Conclusion:               

Covid19 has created new societal challenges and exacerbated existing ones however plethis is also an opportunity to rebuild our society in a more equitable

Corona 2019 why did you’ve it imprison the blind? Author Mugambi paul

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”

 

 

 

As a blind person for the past 23 years, I thought I had seen it all! Oh boy, was I ever wrong! After many years of practice at being blind, I have found something that is sending me for a loop.

COVID-19 has done it to me!

My world now is cold, untouchable, lonely at times–which is something hard to handle. I am not so sure I could survive the new world we are all experiencing if I did not believe that my “Heavenly Father” would not be here to catch me when I fall.

Going for a walk, if anyone is passing me by, I’m always wondering if they will possibly get me sick. Going to a market or moll and trying to get assistance, while everyone wants to run away from you. No getting together with friends because no one wants to come and visit, scared we pass the virus to one another. Walking onto a bus and being scared that the person who previously occupied the seat you are now at had the virus.

Or, a simple walk in a park and getting lost because all the roads have no traffic to give me a sense of direction. Yes, to me, this was probably one of the hardest things to handle. My world is open when I have sounds of traffic or sound barriers to help me to be able to be independent daily.

My rural places like playing fields and parks is a place I have known for the past 23 years and I am very used to going there. Now this park and field of play is very different for someone who has no sight. No children in the playground, nobody bringing the dogs to the park, no one bringing me coffee and conversation, and no cars to give me direction as to where the roads are.

The world I knew had familiar sounds to help give me direction, and this I knew was a world that was easier to deal with in my daily life. I also use a white cane and now people are scared. Put jump very first since thy know viruses can spend time on metallic objects. How does a blind person keep social distance from a sighted guide?

 

 

I also have had others say that many in the markets get upset when I use the white cane.

Now I can honestly say that the world as a blind person is hard to cope with! If I did not live in a house with a yard and with a great garden to take care of and give me joy, my world would have been lonely and hard to handle for the foreseeable future.

Meetings online may give me many hours of involvement with my community, but the time spent on electronics is starting to drive me crazy.

I love to attend meetings in person and the opportunity they provide to get to know others and how they are engaged in our community. Now this opportunity is also lost, and I find that the computer does not bring the same spirit into my daily routines.

So, for all of these reasons, “blindness” has imprisoned me again. But this time it feels like I have moved from a minimum-security prison to a maximum-security one.

Disabilities that Complicate Substance Abuse Treatment and How to Overcome Them Guest author Patrick Bailey

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 

The last thing a person recovering from alcohol addiction needs is yet another obstacle to getting back to the life they know and love. Well-managed inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers should ensure a physical disability does not impede full recovery.

Disabilities and Substance Abuse

People who suffer from physical disabilities have a higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse. The National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) shows that about half of Americans who suffer from a disability are also likely to suffer from substance abuse (co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis). That’s compared to 10% of the general public.

Disabled World reports that those with mobility issues—disabilities like amputated limbs, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic disability, arthritis, deafness, vision impairment, or multiple sclerosis—are two to four times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

Yet an anonymous survey reveals that of those suffering from a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI) and also seeking addiction treatment, about half are refused admission to inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers.

A report from the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) shows that physical accessibility negatively impacts the success of treatment for those with disabilities every day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five American adults has a disability. Most worrisome for those in an inpatient facility are mobility and visual or auditory challenges that prevent them from taking full advantage of the treatment offered them.

Alcohol and drug abuse can complicate treatment for the physically disabled by interfering with therapy, rehabilitation, counseling sessions, and medications.

Overcoming Barriers to Treatment

For this reason, a physically accessible treatment center is essential to those who have both physical limitations and addiction challenges.

Group therapy and support groups can dispel social isolation and offer a healing environment for both those who suffer from addiction and their families. However, an additional layer of support is required for those with an additional disability.

Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers can offset this by removing or altering potential barriers to their disabled clients.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all private accommodations and commercial facilities that are not residential facilities remove barriers to communication and access that would negatively affect individuals who are disabled.

For this reason and others, a viable treatment facility must accommodate those who are disabled, ensuring they have complete access to the facility.

Making Rehab Accessible

Three factors that can affect a person’s ability to function:

  • A person’s mental, emotional, and/or physical state doesn’t function properly. This can include hearing or memory loss.
  • Activity limitations. Inability to carry out normal tasks.
  • Participation restrictions. A person who cannot participate fully, or not at all, in daily life activities because of their limits. This impacts the way the individual engages in work, social, recreational, or health-related activities that are critical for their health and well-being.

Some of the modifications needed for the disabled include:

  • Ramps and elevators that offer mobility-specific features.
  • Wider doors and hallways for those in wheelchairs or other mobility devices.
  • Power-assisted doors.
  • Even, slip-proof floors.
  • Prominently displayed braille and other sensory navigational features.
  • TTY options on phones for the hearing impaired.

Other Physical Disabilities

Physical disabilities are not confined to one’s ability to walk without aid. They may result from a birth defect, an accident, a disease, or age. Anything that prevents or diminishes a person’s ability to engage in social activities is a disability

Physical disability includes chronic health conditions that prevent a person from participating fully in their day-to-day life. This includes a variety of autoimmune diseases. Some diseases can become a secondary disability that must be considered in one’s drug or alcohol rehab.

Examples include:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies (environmental and food)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Cerebral palsy (CP)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Loss of a limb
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Lupus
  • Sickle cell anemia

Learning Disabilities

The best inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers also make accommodations for clients with learning, sensory, and mental disorders.

A learning disability alters the way a person can listen, speak, read, spell, and/or think. Such a disability impedes a person’s ability to process, recall, and/or express information.

Clients with memory problems often have trouble communicating and have a hard time performing school or job-related tasks.

Chronic health conditions such as physical disabilities are risk factors on their own. Add to that a substance abuse problem and removing as many barriers as possible is essential.

How Covid crises became a Siamese to a Miraa vehicle Author Mugambi Paul

 

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 crisis has been a challenging time, however, there have been surprising positives. With more employees working from home, companies have been able to tap into diversity in new ways.

Through the pandemic, we’ve seen new attitudes being created towards flexible working. This is an opportunity for businesses to diversify their workforces and will open up jobs for those who aren’t able to adhere to the nine-to-five, or who can’t commute to a major city each day.

With businesses embracing flexibility, one of the changes we can expect is to see more women, in jobs that would previously have required them to be in the office and working traditional hours. For a long time, many women returning to work after maternity leave have been forced to reduce their hours or change roles to balance their new caretaking duties with work – a decision that often impacts career progression. Increased remote working and improved flexibility will see more roles offering these ways of working, in turn, giving mothers more optionality when it comes to managing careers and their families.

Alongside the acceptance of remote working and perhaps a core part of it, is the movement towards managing staff by outcome rather than by input. It’s no longer about working a set number of hours, at a set time – but about what you produce and the outcome you generate. Managing by outcome will also benefit working parents as they will be able to fit their workload around their family commitments – school pick-ups and drops offs. Parents can make use of early mornings or evenings, and capitalise on the saved commute time.

The coronavirus pandemic has also prompted organisations to implement new measures to better support parents. At Skills and Thrills, we’ve introduced bespoke care programs that many corporates have been taking advantage of to keep kids busy and ensure parents can focus on their work. The programs are live-streamed with tutors who run each workshop and interact with the kids at home, and activities are all skills-based and engaging.

This new attitude toward flexibility post-COVID-19 will also increase accessibility for other groups, including those who live in regional rural areas and people with a disability.

Rural and Regional areas are known for a strong sense of community and lower cost of living, however, there are a range of barriers to securing higher-paying stable employment for rural workers, who live outside major cities and towns These include long commutes, lack of jobs in their area of interest and less high paying professional jobs. Remote working effectively increases higher-paying employment opportunities for people living in rural areas. Corporates who historically only employ staff near their city hub, will expand their recruitment searches to include more remote areas.

The post coronavirus workplace also has benefits for people with a disability, who often face challenges in the workplace. The most obvious advantage is the increased acceptance of remote work. Travelling to work can be a stressful process, for those with both physical and mental disabilities. Working from home means the environment is already designed with the needs of the individual, maximising productivity and job satisfaction. This is an empowering experience, as employees are recognised for their skills rather than their disability.

With workplaces increasingly becoming more flexible, the focus is increasingly on skills and the ability to deliver results. As we enter the new normal, let’s hope businesses continue to shift in this direction, opening the door to a wider pool of talent, and creating a future workforce that supports greater diversity.

Why Blind schools should not be in a hurry to reopen Author Mugambi Paul

 

Being blind myself, Covid 2019 has paused barriers.

The barrier        s range from mobility, lack of implementation of the famo         us new norm social distancing and the fear which Corona has create        d.                    

I believe having experienced this,

It is prudent for learners who are blind and low vision are guaranteed

 reasonable accommodation as government plans to reopen.

Will the ministry of education ensure Blind and personally sighted access education?  With the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) accessibility which has become a human rights principle, be adpopted? This is a specific norm that obliges States Parties to take pertinent measures to ensure access to persons with disabilities, on equal terms with others, to the physical environment, transport, information and communications, including information and communication systems and technologies, and other services and facilities open to the public or for public use, both in urban and rural. Areas so that persons with disabilities can live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life.

With the advent of Covid,  a blind and partially sighted learner cannot be grouped with the same requirements of other Special Schools or alternatively with ordinary schools such as the issues of social distancing since touch is a major feature for blind and partially sighted learners. The students are also required to move around the school premises and hostels and are assisted by other learners and staff at these schools.

 LOW VISION PEOPLE AND THE RISK OF CORONAVIRUS.                           Most probably this may not have come to your mind, whether you live with low vision or not. In view of the manner in which Coronavirus is transmitted, it behooves all people living with low vision to be extra cautious during these pivotal moments. When reading, as low vision people, they are forced by the said circumstance to draw the material being read very close to their eyes, thus increasing the risk of inhaling the droplets containing the virus, which may have been left there by an infected individual. When interacting with our phones, tablets, iPads, and any other electronic device, please let’s ensure we sanitize them before use, especially if they may have landed in the hands of individuals who you may not be sure of their health status. You don’t have to buy a sanitizer, but you can get a surgical spirit and apply on your device before use. Surgical spirit is alcohol based thus making it most appropriate alternative for sanitization. Since we cannot sanitize newspapers and other reading materials on paper, we can get someone to read for us or use magnifier if possible.

 

 

 

 

The students also use their fingers for reading braille and using braille writing machines or to feel an object. Therefore, there is a greater need to sanitise equipment and surfaces more regularly.

 

Another major concern is the poor infrastructure at these schools especially with inadequate facilities at the hostel.  The students will not be able to practice social distancing since the hostels are full and, in many instances, there is overcrowding in the hostels. Mealtimes will also pose challenges with students assembling in the dining room for their meals.

Things they don’t tell you about being a disability activist GUEST AUTHOR CARLY FINDLAY

 

It’s Disability Pride month right now. To be honest, I’m not feeling it – I am feeling hurt and exhausted. I (and many others) have been the target of bullying within the disability community/sector for some time now.

For the most part, the bullying towards me has been covert, but in recent months – since I received a certain award – it’s amped up – naming me, sharing my photo, and responding nastily to things I’ve written. It’s all public. 

The bullying has had an impact on my work – I’ve experienced fear to write and speak; and also on my mental health – I’ve had panic attacks.

Speaking up has cost me greatly – people disbelieving me, telling me I’m paranoid,reporting my actions back to the bullies. If you support this bullying, we are not friends.

I’m not running any hate campaign. I am simply sharing my experience since 2017, to make it public and share the burden. And I am asking for it to stop. 

I hope to write something more prideful soon.
💔
Things they don’t tell you about being a disability activist:

Lateral violence occurs and it has have a big impact on your experience of disability and your work in disability activism.

That is, some of the most hateful behaviour you’ll encounter is from other disabled people.

There will be gatekeepers and policing about how you can be disabled and do disability activism.

It’s not safe to have individual success or talk about it – you must only have collective success.

You are made to choose between activism and mainstream work.

You can’t possibly have fun and enjoy life – certainly must not make it public that you enjoy life – you must be angry all the time.

Someone will be waiting for you to trip up.

There will be jealousy. Of course they’ll deny it is jealousy, putting it back on to you by saying you’re conceited.

Disability activism is too white.

Some of the bullies hold a lot of internalised ableism. They aren’t happy with themselves, and have to lash out at someone who is. that and they’re terrible people.

You shouldn’t work for free, but you’ll also be torn down if you earn money working in disability advocacy.

You cannot openly show disability pride.

Some people aren’t professional or mature, and will manipulate and twist the truth to suit them.

You are not encouraged to thrive as an activist – you must stay down.

You should not be interested in fashion or taking pride in your appearance.

Bad behaviour is often blamed on disability.

People will use you for your connections.

You’ll either be too inspiring or not inspiring enough – when you just want to be you.

Awards will be deemed as worthless – pitiful platitudes at best, devaluing the whole disability community at worst.

You’ll be accused of not being disabled enough.

Nothing you do will be enough – enough or good enough. They’ll want more.

You will be accused of taking up too much space – even when passing on the mic.

You will also be accused of not speaking out enough. You won’t be able confirm to their ridiculous expectations ever.

You will be relieved that it’s happening so publicly – because others are seeing it too. Phew! (But you’ll be gaslit and disbelieved so much.)

You will tell people quietly about harmful disabled people and you’ll be disbelieved or because “they do good work” or “that bad behaviour is part of their disability”.

Things I know about being a disability activist:

There are plenty of ways to do activism – there’s room for everyone.

Disabled people that you haven’t met will write to you to tell you that your words and work made them braver and prouder.

Parents of disabled children will tell you that you helped them shake their shame.

Doctors will put you in touch with families of newborns with the same medical condition as you, or you’ll meet them in Facebook groups and you’ll be able to share advice and see their little ones grow and thrive.

You will meet amazing people who are fighting for rights and making positive change.

You will do work that makes your heart full (and heart break) – not only benefiting you but many, many people.

You will take comfort in sharing the same social barriers as other disabled people, even though your diagnoses are not the same.

Change is slow, but it’s noticeable.

It’s better working together.

You will grow and learn and change your mind and make mistakes – that’s allowed.

And there will be far, far more wonderful disabled people who don’t behave in the ways you’ve written about above.

 

 

How Government can sponsor discrimination with out lifting a finger: A case of Kenyans who preach water and drink wine Author Mugambi Paul

A social media post by #Fredrick Ouko

Caught my attention.

This led me to further scrutinize the views of Kenyans and how they perceive persons with disabilities in the social media.

 

Kenya we have a  long way to go to achieve real inclusion.

.

#jane says “Waow!! Very sad!! Inclusive employment is a myth! “

 

I hope the organization of persons with disabilities and policy makers can monitor and make pronouncement on this so that youth with disabilities can be counted.

 

Let’s return to #fred and I shall quote:

Can someone explain to me like a 2-year boy, how can a state-sponsored project on youth employment exclusively set out to discriminate against youth with disabilities and no other than PS Kibicho sets out the terms :#KaziMtaani initiative launched yesterday across 47 counties, you MUST be “Abled-Bodied” and aged between 18-35 years to benefit” ow

And now the views of Kenyans which made me in Swahili saying “niliishiwa na nguvu”

 

Kenyans are saying this.

1It’s manual work sir nothing discriminatory it’s just realistic

 

  1. Inua Jamii Initiative is meant for vulnerable and PLWD Who are not able to do manual works.

3Remember kazi mtaani is purely manual work so PLWD may not be able to undertake the task ahead4. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Kibicho’s statement…. it’s you who has stated it negatively and not him.

 

  1. It’s manual work sir nothing discriminatory it’s just realistic

 

5Stop being unnecessarily sensitive mheshimiwa..The government is quite specific on the type of employees it requires for the job. Just the same way it can put a master’s degree requirement etc. There’s a reason why able-bodied is specified.

6 Kazi mtaani needs energy and body movements

7 Anybody who can carry jembe, spades and shovels is able bodied. With all due respect nothing makes anybody who is abled differently from doing a job he/she can ably do. You are the one discriminating the same people you represent

  1. Anyone who can work is able bodied. Why are you feeling like the stt attacks people like you? Kwani hauko able bodied?

9 Abled bodied doesn’t mean discrimination against people living with disabilities, it mean you must be strong not weak to undertake the said activities. You may not be living with disabilities but you are weak hence unable to perform the tusk.

10 Si the disabled and the aged wanapewa pesa zao ?

11 Able bodied includes the albinos and others that have ability to work. Nothing is discriminatory in that statement. You must be having an understanding

12 A person who is lame, or has a disability is still able bodied but abled differently. We nowadays don’t call such disability!!! You should know that already.

13 Remember kazi mtaani is purely manual work so PLWD may not be able to undertake the task ahead

14 The term cannot be avoided since some of the workers can only be executed by able bodies eg security guards. Wait for your time unless you’re seeking publicity.

 

15 Your understanding of queen’s language is disabled.

16 It’s manual work sir nothing discriminatory it’s just realistic

17 This is the reason PWDs need advocacy. Able bodied is a prejudistic term in this case

18 I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Kibicho’s statement…. it’s you who has stated it negatively and not him.

19 He’s right, no descrimanatory..he said “able-bodied”…so if albinism and hear impaired are abled bodied,then he’s captured n the statement

20 Not all jobs you must be included…. Some slots are just for able bodied 🤣🤣🤣

21 I think you dont understand the word able-bodied…

22 Have you ever seen an albino who is a bouncer

23 Stop being unnecessarily sensitive mheshimiwa..The government is quite specific on the type of employees it requires for the job. Just the same way it can put a masters degree requirement etc.. There’s a reason why able-bodied is specified.

24 Very discrimatory even writting needs able body.

25 Si the disabled and the aged wanapewa pesa zao ?

 

 

 

 

Anyway what should the message be to all Kenyans:

With due respect all,  your words “Must be able-bodied” are discriminatory and are in total contravention to our constitution article 54, persons with disabilities act of Parliament of 2003 session paper number 14 and UNCRPD (united Nation convention on the rights of persons with disabilities) which Kenya ratified in 2008.

All in all, as I  normally say if we aren’t in the cake making we can’t be counted. when shall ablism tendency end?

 

Why 2020 decided to put its foot in our behinds. Author Mugambi Paul

According to the world blind union, it is estimated 285 million people are Blind and vision impaired. worldwide with about 90% of them living in low-income countries.  Of all the school-age children with visual impairment, less than half were receiving education. 

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that has now enveloped the whole world, most governments took drastic measures of shutting down institutions of learning.

I affirm as a Blind fellow in the low-income country it is worse to be Blind at this Corona period.

This is because of the educational inequalities ranging from attitudinal, institutional and existence of the environmental barriers.

To put matters differently Blind and vision impaired persons are experiencing quadruple worries:

Lack of inclusive education Corona policies

Lack of skills and lack of   assistive technology,

lack of devices needed for reading and writing

Lack of available of even traditional modes of technology while at home e.g. Brail books, adaptive graphics.

Psycosocial distress.

Inaccessible built environments

Increase of discrimination

Additionally, all these issues have rendered individuals with blindness to suffer. Evidently in most countries they have provided alternative learning through the 4th revolution uptake of digital learning but not having the blind and vision impaired in mind.

Am very sad to say the list since the approaches and techniques adapted by most ministry of education has ensured Blind, visually impaired and Deafblind have been left behind.

Notably, over 80% of all incidental learning and the performance of activities of daily living are dependent on sight.  

The SDG slogan “don’t live us behind”” is unwanted ringtone to many blind and vision impaired.

The barriers experienced by many blind and vision impaired persons range from usage of non-visual chats, inaccessible contents, non-inclusive plans,

Lack of affordability of the radios and television among blind and vision impaired persons since poverty and disability are twin brothers.

Inaccessible modes of learning and channels of media.

Someone should educate me how braille will be examined virtually!

Someone should tell me how the adapted sciences will be examined virtually.

To be a student in the corona era seems to be a torture chamber by itself.

Its not that blind and vision impaired were not facing these challenges before but Covid 2019 has excarnificated the experiences.

Another instance is the experiences of girls and women who are blind and vision impaired are at higher risk of gender-based violence and it’s on record with the self-isolation guidelines many will be taken advantage.

I won’t be surprised to know the pregnancy rates have increased.

Human rights reports in several countries have shown how persons with disabilities are stuffing in the hands of close relatives and family members.

 

Lastly, the real, refugee set ups and internally displaced individuals who are blind and vision impaired are worse hit since they aren’t able to access the alternative mode of learning and support mechanisms are not in place.

The voice of the Blind and vision impaired seemed to have been stung led by the lack of alternative formats of Corona and then ensured to instigate the burial ceremony by many state and non-state actors.

Moreover, most governments do not have inclusive emergency plans in place thus persons with disabilities come as a second thought.

Is this fair for many students who are blind and vision impaired?

UnCRPD, many constitutions expressly advocate for right to education.

All in all, even under normal circumstances, persons who are blind and vision impaired are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. They are more likely to live in poverty, experience higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse, and are among the most marginalized in any crisis-affected community. COVID-19 has further compounded this situation, disproportionately impacting persons who are blind and vision impaired both directly and indirectly.

An integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in COVID-19 education response and recovery. It calls for placing them at the centre of the response, participating as agents of planning and implementation. All COVID-19 related action must prohibit any form of discrimination based on blindness and take into consideration the intersections of gender and age, among other factors. This is necessary effectively and efficiently to address and prevent barriers inclusion will result in a COVID19 response and recovery that better serves everyone, more fully suppressing the virus, as well as building back better. It will provide for more agile systems capable of responding to complex situations, reaching the furthest behind first.

 

governments need to put measures in place to ensure many blind and vision impaired persons do not fall in to the cracks.

I would like to see inclusive strategies adapted to ensure that no one is left behind.

 

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”

 

Corona the twin Brother of Indigenous disabled Kenyans author Mugabi Paul

The experiences of indigenous Kenyans with disabilities are a key area of concern since they haven’t been recognized or no one is aware about them. the Kenya bureau of statistics of 2019 doesn’t address or mention this group.

Hence no Data to show the    disproportionate impact and number of indigenous persons with disabilities. some form of long-term health condition.[i]

It’s a known fact that indigos disable Kenyans with disability may face particular challenges in their day to day lives, including accessing education and healthcare and shelter and livelihood. These challenges can be further compounded by 6multiple layers of discrimination, particularly in relation to tribe and disability

 In the Corona era they are most likely to be denied services as other marginalized groups get involved.

Their voices aren’t visible, some say they are backward lot but I affirm they are left behind not just by the structural and systemic influences but also the assertion of any development indicators.

 

 

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”

Award winner,

How to stop “Discrimination” in the Corona era! a call by Public policy scholars.

Addressing discrimination and inequality in the global response to COVID-19

In the short time since the start of this new decade, life has changed dramatically across the world. COVID-19 has now spread to more than 185 countries. The number of recorded cases has surpassed 3.5 million. Families and friends across the globe are mourning the loss of more than 240,000 people. With the stated intention of controlling the spread of the virus and protecting lives, States are implementing unprecedented restrictions on movement both within and between countries (“lockdowns”), with significant and wide-ranging impacts on societies and economies.  

As these measures have taken effect, it has become clear that, while the virus is indiscriminate, the impacts of state responses are not. In late April, launching a new report, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres stated that the pandemic is a public health emergency “that is fast becoming a human rights crisis”. As that UN report highlights, there is clear and growing evidence that state responses in delivery of healthcare, in the implementation of lockdown measures and in policies designed to mitigate economic impacts are having disproportionate and discriminatory impacts. These effects are being experienced by all groups exposed to discrimination, including, but not limited to, older persons, children, persons with disabilities, women, ethnic and religious minorities and indigenous peoples, persons, persons living with HIV and AIDS, and migrants, refugees and stateless persons. They are impacting upon the enjoyment of rights ranging from freedom of movement to access to education and from access to information to an adequate standard of living, together, of course, with the rights to life and to health. 

These discriminatory impacts are occurring despite the fact that almost every State in the world has accepted international legal obligations to ensure the equal enjoyment of human rights, without discrimination. At a bare minimum, these obligations require that the State – whether through law, policy or practice – does not discriminate in its actions. They also create a duty to provide effective protection from all forms of discrimination by private actors and to make reasonable accommodation when required. These obligations apply to all: citizen and non-citizen, irrespective of their identity, status or beliefs. They are “immediate and cross-cutting”. They apply in respect of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Crucially, while international law recognises that in states of emergency, States can limit the enjoyment of certain human rights, their obligations to ensure nondiscrimination remain – emergency measures must not discriminate either in their purpose or their effects.

As this unprecedented global crisis unfolds, it is clear that States are failing to meet their nondiscrimination obligations. Their responses – largely driven by a stated intention to protect lives – are having a wide range of discriminatory impacts. While many of these effects may be unintended, the lack of intent does not limit States’ obligations. Moreover, with new evidence emerging each week, it is clear that we cannot yet foresee the full range of discriminatory impacts which this crisis will engender. 

State obligations to assess and address equality impacts

We call on all States to incorporate equality impact assessment as an integral element of their ongoing public health, economic and social policy responses to the crisis. It is only through assessing the equality impacts of their policy responses that States can ensure that their actions comply with their binding non-discrimination obligations under international law. Equality impact assessment is the only way that States can anticipate and eliminate the discriminatory effects of their policy responses, including those which are unintended or unforeseen.

Equality impact assessments must be aimed at identifying and eliminating the actual or potential discriminatory effects of State policies. They should also ensure that policies and programmes respond to and accommodate the different needs of diverse groups with due consideration to intersectionality and that they do not create or exacerbate inequality. 

In order to ensure that States comply with their international legal obligations, equality impact assessments should be pre-emptive, coming before new policy measures are adopted and before any changes are made to policies which are already in force. Where measures have already been adopted, equality impact assessment should be undertaken as an urgent priority. Where discriminatory impacts are identified, measures to eliminate any discrimination or inequality of impact should be taken with immediate effect. States must ensure that they involve and consult all groups at risk of discrimination and experiencing inequality in conducting equality impact assessment. States must ensure that equality impact assessment is an essential element of their monitoring and review of policy responses to the pandemic and of their on the ground effects. Both initial assessments and ongoing monitoring must be informed by the collection of data on the experiences and outcomes of groups exposed to discrimination

All policy responses to the crisis must be subject to assessment, including those relating to the management of healthcare and other resources, the restriction of civil liberties, closure of businesses and educational establishments, adaptation of support services, economic and social protection programmes, immigration and border control and the use of new information technologies. The actual or potential equality impacts of actions by both state and private actors must be assessed.  

A renewed commitment to the creation of an equal world

Furthermore, we call on all States to emerge from the current crisis with a renewed commitment to the elimination of all forms of discrimination and the creation of a world in which all are “free and equal in dignity and rights”. The wide range of unintended discriminatory consequences of state responses to the crisis – ranging from the increased exposure to the virus amongst ethnic minority populations to the rise in domestic violence – only serve to underline the deep inequalities within our societies and the failure to address the systemic discrimination which feeds them. 

This crisis has shone a harsh and unforgiving light on these existing inequalities. We must emerge from it ready to forge a world in which all can participate equally. Arundhati Roy has described this pandemic as a portal, “a gateway between one world and the next”. We call on States to ensure that we walk through this portal leaving no one behind, and with a shared determination to create an equal world.

Hope beyond COVID-19 Author Mugambi Paul

Africans with disabilities are largely left out of the African governments. coronavirus response despite being uniquely affected by the disease, as discussed by the international disability alliance, several disability experts and Views expressed in different social media platforms.

 

Palpably, The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our daily lives, but its impacts are especially acute for disabled persons, who may

struggle with challenges like finding reliable and safe in-home care or physically adapting to enhanced hand-washing guidance.

But the coronavirus outbreak has also created opportunities for more equitable inclusion after the pandemic ends.

How might the pandemic disturb those who have disabilities?

For disabled persons, all the general challenges that come with the pandemic certainly apply, but there are additional barriers. The first is communication—getting

information can be more difficult for people with vision, hearing, and even cognitive disabilities, as popular news sources may not be accessible, especially

when information is changing quickly. I’m Blind and can attest to that. Keeping all of us informed is key to the COVID-19 public health response,

but information is not always accessible to the disability community, for instance data visual charts are not understood.

The second barrier involves adopting recommended public health strategies, such as social distancing and washing hands. For example, frequent hand-washing

is not always feasible for people with certain types of physical disabilities. As a public scholar I know the value of these strategies, but public health

policies often do not consider people with disabilities, leaving a gap in guidance. Those who have personal aides like sighted guides for Deaf blind and Blind individuals, and caregivers also need to be considered,

as they cannot participate in social distancing in the same way that others are.

The third, equitable access to health care, is a long-standing barrier worsened by COVID-19. This ranges from getting a coronavirus test to being seen

in an emergency room. For instance, drive-up testing may be impossible if you rely on state mobility services. There are also existing barriers in health

care settings that are exacerbated as the industry aims to meet the surge of COVID-19 cases. For example, the use of personal protective equipment, including

masks, can make communication more difficult for patients with hearing loss.

Additionally, the allocation of medical resources is a concern. There’s fear that medical resource allocation, including ventilators, may be discriminatory

against patients with disabilities. In Europe and united states of America some organization of persons with disabilities and human rights bodies have filed complains about these rationing policies. This issue echoes an underlying misconception

that people with disabilities can’t have a high quality of life and therefore the lives of disabled people may not be prioritized.

What lessons can African government learn from inclusion in Corona response for disabled persons?

in some countries, there has been a shift toward telehealth for nonurgent medical visits. That has provided challenges but also future

opportunities for the disability sector. We must ensure that telehealth visits are accessible to patients with vision or hearing loss or other disabilities

in order to maintain equity in health care delivery. If accessibility is prioritized as we make this change, a transition to telehealth could open the

door to a more accessible health care system.

Several studies have underpinned, THE ISSUES OF PRE-PANDEMIC CARE DELIVERY ONLY BECOME MORE URGENT IN A TIME OF CRISIS BECAUSE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES HAVE OFTEN NOT BEEN CONSIDERED IN

A DISASTER OR PANDEMIC PLANNING.

While there’s a lot of pressure and certainly a high demand to meet the COVID-19 surge, it is still crucial to make sure that the organizations of persons with disabilities and disability experts

is being considered. It’s truly a remarkable and challenging moment for African health system, but the needs of the disability community can’t fall through

the cracks. The issues of pre-pandemic care delivery only become more urgent in a time of crisis because people with disabilities have often not been considered

in a disaster or pandemic planning. We need to learn from this crisis and ensure disability is part of future pandemic planning.

For those in the disability community who require in-home care or essential services when away from home, what steps can be taken to minimize the risk

of spreading the coronavirus while still receiving necessary care and assistance?

People who use in-home support care need to make sure that they have contingency plans for their care needs in case a caregiver becomes ill. Caregivers and community

organizations should also consider changing their staffing to the best of their ability in order to minimize spread. For instance, instead of three rotating

caregivers being assigned to an individual, assign one for a longer period of time. For people with a primary caregiver in the home, more flexibility in

paid time off or sick leave can minimize exposure while also meeting the care needs of the individual. What’s really important is to engage the individual

and the disability community at the policy level.

Furthermore, MANY disabled persons ARE AT HIGH RISK OF COVID-19, BUT THEIR PERSPECTIVE IS NOT BEING INCLUDED IN THE EFFORTS TO ADDRESS INEQUITIES IN THE RESPONSE.

For instance, most Kenyan policy directives are not disability inclusive.

 

In a moment when many providers have had to alter their operations due to the pandemic, what are ways to advocate for essential services and treatment

for the disability community?

The best approach is to ensure that whenever we’re talking about inequity or differences in the COVID-19 response, disability is part of the discussion.

Many people with disabilities are at high risk of COVID-19, but their perspective is not being included in the efforts to address inequities in the response.

This includes understanding the unique challenges of this community during this crisis.

We also need disability data. There is currently no systematic reporting of COVID-19 testing, infection, mortality, or outcomes by disability status.

This is evident by the daily media updates from different countries.

For example, in east Africa important differences in this data by age, geographic location, underlying health condition, estate location and race have emerged. These data have been

critical for allocating resources and directing policies, as well as highlighting underlying disparities and elevating discussions around these health

gaps. But for people with disabilities, an often-ignored health disparity population, we don’t even get counted. And this is not just the case for COVID-19.

Disability data is infrequently collected in this type of public health and medical surveillance, which limits opportunities to address disability inequities.

As a public policy scholar and expert on diversity and inclusion I affirm and recommend the data being reported should be 15 % or more are persons with disabilities “WHO 2011”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, what impact and legacy do you think it will have for those living with disabilities?

I’m an optimistic person, and though it can be hard to think positively right now, there is an opportunity to change how we include people with disabilities

in this moment. COVID-19 has elevated that conversation, and the legacy should be a continued focus on disability disparities and constant efforts to address

disability inequities.

As we all make substantial changes in our daily lives, such as working from home and adjusting how we connect to others, look to people with disabilities

for guidance, as we have always used alternative strategies. We are the vanguards of resilience. My hope is that COVID-19 will bring more understanding,

inclusion, and opportunity to the African disability community.

 

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”

 

Mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak Author Paul Mugambi

 

The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on global scale. It is understandable that during times like this,

people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus.

Disabled persons have lived experience on this and with the additional Corona concerns its even worse.

While it is important to stay informed, the following are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and

each other during these difficult times.

The tips are based on  experiences and great lessons as a  global citizen. 

Manage your exposure to media coverage as this can increase feelings of fear and anxiety. Be mindful of sources of information and ensure you are accessing

good quality and accurate information. Follow a “calm yet cautious” approach – do you best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic that can hinder efforts to

positively manage the outbreak. Ensure you are following directives issued by the government and WHO  medical advice and observe good hygiene habits.

 

Show compassion and kindness to one another – these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that

we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other. Remind ourselves that we can manage this much better together in solidarity,

and that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, disability, nationality, or ethnicity.

 

Actively manage your wellbeing by maintaining routines where possible, connect with family and friends (even if not in person), staying physically active,

eating nutritious foods and seeking additional support by contacting government or further professional support as required.  

 

Strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine

 

Going into a period of social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine may feel daunting or overwhelming, and can contribute to feelings of helplessness

and fear. In addition to the above, I  encourage the following.

 

list of 7 items

  • Perspective – try to see this time as unique and different, not necessarily bad, even if it something you didn’t necessarily choose
  • Connection – think of creative ways to stay connected with others, including social media, email and phone
  • Be generous to others – giving to others in times of need not only helps the recipient, it enhances your wellbeing too. Is there a way to help others?

around you?

Thanks to those who have supported in kind the cases I presented to them.

  • Stay connected with your values. Don’t let fear or anxiety drive your interactions with others. I am also in this together!
  • Daily routine – create a routine that prioritises things you enjoy and even things you have been meaning to do but haven’t had enough time. Read that

book, watch that show, take up that new hobby.

  • Try to see this as a new and unusual period that might even have some benefits.
  • Limit your exposure to news and media. Perhaps choose specific times of day when you will get updates, and ensure they are from reputable and reliable

sources.

In my case I don’t own a TV.

Staying connected through the COVID-19 crisis

 

Research after the sierra Leone Ebola shows evidence of the significance of connection through epidemics.  It found that residents

in Sierra Leone experienced increased social connectedness, which offset the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic.

 

As connection is so important during this time, here are some tips on staying connected to others during this time. Remember – we are all in this together.

 

list of 2 items

  •  If there is someone you think may struggle through social isolation, it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care:

list of 4 items nesting level 1

◦ Call them to check on their welfare

◦ Send an email

◦ Leave a note under their door

◦ Don’t underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person.

I have evidently seen work miracle around my self-Isolation tunnel.

list end nesting level 1

  • I encourage people to get creative with how they interact, here are some ways to stay connected if self-isolating:

I have greatly borrowed from the recent interaction in the social media.

list of 4 items nesting level 1

◦ Set up a gratitude tree – where every member posts a message or sends a text to other members to share something, they are grateful for.

◦ Find a buddy, or group of, to set daily challenges with. These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage

and check in daily to stay motivated.

 

◦ Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way… kind of like Goggle Box but you’re

not sharing the couch!

Ask random questions in the social media to make guys think!

◦ If your local community has one, join its social media group! This will keep you up to date with what’s going on directly around you. It may also include

ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.

list end nesting level 1

list end

 

Helping children cope through COVID-19

 

This is an uncertain time for everyone, and children may be impacted by fear and anxiety. Here are some tips on how to ensure your children are supported;

 

list of 4 items

  • Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Where possible, minimise their exposure to media and social media that may heighten anxiety
  • Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let children know it’s okay to share their own feelings
  • Include your children in plans and activities around the house
  • If you don’t see an improvement in 4 weeks, or if you’re concerned, seek professional help (earlier if needed)

list end

 

Reputable sources of information

 

  • World Health Organisation –

http://www.who.int

Where to go for support?

 

 

It is extremely important to seek out help if you feel you need it. I want to remind everyone that counselling services are readily available.

 

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.

2018  Chief minister award winner

“making inclusion happen”

 

are disabled Kenyans In contradiction of the war Corona 2019? “what should Kenyan public health practitioner’s consider? Guest author Farida Asindua, _____

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to cause a trail of destruction globally. In the full wake of the pandemic in Kenya, a disproportionate effect is most likely to be among the vulnerable groups, such as the 918,270 people living with disabilities (PLWD) in the country. According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (2019) Census report, women with disability in the country are 523,883 while 394,330 are men. Majority are living in the rural areas, with only 179,492 living in urban areas – mainly in dense, poor and unserviced informal settlements – rendering them more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

1.      Unique PLWD needs in the COVID-19 era

PLWD are more vulnerable due to the nature of their disabilities.  Lack of mobility is the leading disability in the country, followed by those visually impaired and cognition. Others are mental, intellectual, or sensory disabilities. COVID-19 pandemic puts all these categories of PLWD at risk of increased morbidity and mortality. In the current crisis, they are less likely to access health services, and more likely to experience greater health needs, worse outcomes, and discriminatory laws and stigma than other demographic groups in the country. With the limited Government capacity to respond to COVID-19, historical evidence points to the likelihood of PLWD being the least likely to be targeted with the interventions.

The country must therefore ensure that the unique needs of PLWD are considered in the ongoing COVID-19 containment and response planning. Interventions against the pandemic should be available and accessible to the PLWD in high quality and acceptable manner.

Public health messaging ought to also target PLWD and other vulnerable groups and should be disseminated in simple language across all the accessible formats. Strategies for vital inperson communication should be safe and accessible for persons with disability – in braille, sign language and large print. Although it is commendable that daily ministerial and periodic presidential addresses use sign language interpreters, wearing of transparent masks by communicators and health-care providers is encouraged to allow lip reading.

Physical distancing or self-isolation mechanisms – including the mandatory quarantine, the night curfew and movement cessation into and out of Nairobi and parts of the coastal strip – are already disrupting service provision for PLWD in those areas, who often rely on assistance for delivery of food, medication, and personal care. It is feared that escalation of these measures into full national lockdown would adversely affect majority of PLWD who reside in rural areas. 

The Government of Kenya and all duty bearers should therefore design the mitigation mechanisms not to lead to the segregation or institutionalisation of PLWD. Community level protective measures should be prioritized in the alternative, allowing care givers to continue to safely support PLWD, enabling them to meet their daily living, health care, and transport needs, and maintain their employment and educational commitments.

2.      Important public health measures

The main public health measures that should propagated to curb the spread of COVID 19 are as follows:

  1. Improved accessibility to hand washing areas with running water and soap so that PLWDs are able to use the facilities without assistance.
  2. PLWDs should embrace having hand sanitizers with them at all times. They should sanitise their assistive appliances like wheel chairs and crutches to ensure that they are not carriers of the virus.
  3. Use of gloves should be encouraged and the same be frequently sanitized. The assistive devices should be washed with water and soap once they reach home. Caution should be exercised if gloves are used. PLWD should ensure they do not touch their face with the gloves.
  4. Handwashing should be encouraged for personal assistants, parents, guardians of persons with disability who assist them frequently.
  5. Persons with visual impairments who have to use touch to tell their environment should be encouraged to use gloves and if possible, to avoid touch of people and surfaces all together to prevent COVID 19 transmission.
  6. Use of masks throughout by PLWD depending on their disability, preferably one with an elastic to the ears to avoid frequently having to put it in place. Some may need assistance to put on again, so once assisted it should remain in place. Depending on the type of disability, some persons with disabilities have personal assistants, who also have to put on a mask, so that they do not infect the persons with disability and vice versa.
  7. Social distance; currently it is recommended to be 1 metre away, and lately some say 1.5 metre away from each other. This may be difficult especially for persons with disability who require someone to constantly be around them for assistance. This being the case depending on the disability, both the aide and the person with disability should be in a mask. They should have a sanitizer to constantly sanitize their hands. Staying home, remains the best option for all including PLWD.

3.      Conclusion

PLWD in Kenya are indeed at increased risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection or severe disease because of existing comorbidities, and are additionally facing traditional barriers to health care during the current pandemic. Health-care staff ought to be provided with rapid awareness training on the rights and diverse needs of this group to maintain their dignity, safeguard against discrimination, and prevent inequities in care provision. The Government should ensure that COVID-19 mitigation mechanisms are inclusive of PLWD to ensure they maintain respect for dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and avoid widening existing disparities. 

Of necessity, this includes accelerating efforts to include these groups in COVID-19 containment and response planning. It will require diligence, creativity, and innovative thinking, to preserve Kenya’s commitment to UHC, and ensure PLWD are not forgotten.

 

Disclaimer: All views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily represent views/opinions of any entity or agency.

a Public Health and Disability Inclusion Expert

Email: fasindua@gmail.com

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