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Coronavirus pandemic and Impact on the Disabled Community

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Coronavirus pandemic is the new term for the whole world and it’s here for some more time but certainly not such an exciting thing for the world. Since last couple of weeks, it’s in our minds round the clock. This has brought everything to a standstill. It has adversely affected income, profession and careers of many. It is almost more than a month now for some countries with this lockdown and social distancing.

The havoc and fear caused by Corona is more worrisome for people with Old age, critical disease and disabilities. The high-risk groups are Disabled people and being closely associated with such people, many of us know their challenges and understand their pain very well. It is really difficult to pen-down the pain or challenges they are facing in the real world but it is important to attempt though.

It is clear to the people now that to stop the spread of Coronavirus, it is important to maintain the social distance. For disabled people, most of the simplest tasks can be extremely difficult ones to handle depending on their health conditions. However, it is well known that disabled people are creative problem solvers, but barriers are barriers and hence a few things can be still very tough to manage. So, it is also difficult to isolate completely from the world and maintain a complete social distance.

It is difficult to gauge anything at this pandemic time but still, it is necessary to take care of all like caretakers, friends, families, neighbors, service providers, etc. The disabled people may need such help to achieve the entire task during a day, not every disabled person can help himself on his own.

People who have disabilities or chronic diseases are at very high risk than others from Coronavirus. This health risk is more and it is also based on factors like age group, ailments, and some other conditions. This can put the life of a disabled more in danger. The risk of losing a life is high for the public but for disabled and with chronic diseases it is even higher.

Are disabled people being ignored during Covid19Pandemic?

While governments, associations, NGOs all are working towards helping workers, deprived and laborers, not many are coming forward to identify the disabled as people who may need help. It is that easy to understand that during this period of life and death some discrimination against disabled people can be clearly seen. Organizations fail to announce any help package or service for disabled considering the helplessness to move out.

While most of the disabled people are aware of the scarcity and the emergencies today but they are expected to not being ignored for basic necessities. It will be really disheartening to know that they are less prioritizing for basic necessities like food and medical care just because of their disability.

While it is very true that disability discrimination is a part of everyday life, we cannot ignore the fact that most of the people behave in a rightful manner after knowing about the disability. There is a very thin line between acceptance and rejection in public. In this time of pandemic most of the disabled persons have to fight against the system on their own and not just the coronavirus.

Disable Schools and Programs are closed

Yes, it’s a National lockdown so obviously schools and programs for disabled will be closed too. Disabled Schools in the city like Mumbai work differently. Most of the schools not only educate but also take care of the day-to-day routine of the disabled kids and youth. It is like a second home for them. This also helps parents of such kids to focus on their work without even thinking about the child care.

Programs like vocational courses and therapy sessions are also very important when we talk about disabled children and youth. These are usually outside programs conducted to ensure normalcy to the life of the disabled children and youth. It may be difficult for them to even function and their abilities can degenerate. Parents of such disabled kids and youth might be facing the challenges in keeping them active whole day to ensure that the health and well-being is intact in the absence of the pandemic.

The question arises that:

  • Is there any organization or association really going to raise the voice for the betterment of Disabled during this whole Coronavirus period?
  • Are disability rights of such people still important for the Government?
  • Will there be any specific package or helpline number to ensure the basic needs of disabled persons staying alone?

Financial and Stimulus packages ignored disabled people

Central and State Government announced various financial help and stimulus packages for people across the country. They even announced direct credit facility for daily wage workers, farmers, etc. but did not highlight any package specifically designed for overall help of disabled people. It is not just financial but other aspects too while you are thinking to help a disabled person. Usually, disabled persons are engaged with some work and earning their income for their survival. How is it feasible to check whether any support is provided to their families during this time? Is the help provided by local bodies is sufficient or less than the usual benefits?  The worry is that even if some package is announced, it is not less than the actual supports that these disabled people receive from the government during this emergency phase. We hope that Organizations working for Disabled people are watching this and are more vigilant from the people side.

Is it like becoming more and more dependent?

Disabled people are dependent on the overall ecosystem like subsidies, monthly income, caretakers, care programs that help them throughout the day. They are very much prone to the disease and so need to take extra care of their health. In such an emergency scenario it is important to take careful steps to ensure their safety and livelihood. It is also important to make all the necessary provisions to help out the disabled people for their grocery, medical needs, and financial support along with a proper healthcare facility even if it is the case of emergency Coronavirus treatment for them.

It is our genuine concern about the Disabled People across the country as we work with them day in and day out. “Their health is our priority and we don’t want them to miss this during emergency” quoted by a senior person working for handicapped people.

It is believed that often disabled people need to get in touch with some organization to fight for their rights and get the basic needs fulfilled. It is the usual course too and hence during this Covid19 outbreak it can be more daunting too. It can be a life and death situation or atleast partial threat to add more on their health. Few issues like medical and logistics can be unavoidable during this crisis but still it can be dangerous for disabled people.

We all should not forget that Disabled are often strong people and get a lot of community support too but that does not rule out the responsibility of the government on their part. Support with utmost care is the key for the disabled people at this moment.