The loss of life that COVID-19 could cause in the countries where we work is a harrowing but very real prospect.
This is also compounded by the reality of life for many disabled people in Africa and Asia.
For people with complex needs or living in densely populated areas, social isolation is not possible.
In rural communities without accessible sanitation, protective hand-washing is not possible. In countries with limited health systems and limited ventilators, access to life-saving oxygen is not possible.
In the countries where we work the majority of disabled people rely on fragile informal livelihoods to meet their basic needs, but their sources of income are now cut off.
“Hellen is physically disabled and lives with HIV. She used to mine salt and sell it in the market. The lockdown means Hellen is unable to earn any money. She is now struggling to provide food for her family, which impacts her health. Hellen needs to take her HIV medication with meals. The hospital is far away, and due to her disability, Hellen struggles to access it. There is also now a shortage of health workers. On the days Hellen can make it to the hospital, there is no guarantee that there will be staff to see her.”
Four steps to save lives.
At the heart of our COVID-19 response are disability activists across Africa and Asia. They have a presence in remote villages, bustling slums, dense cities and national governments. Together we will deliver the following 4 steps to save lives.
1. Life-Saving Information. We will make sure disabled people receive accessible and accurate information on how to protect themselves and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Social Support. We will identify people with disabilities most at risk during lockdowns and ensure necessary supplies – like food, water and medicine – are safely delivered. We will utilise remote peer-to-peer support networks to reach those most isolated.
3. Access To Medical Support. We will ensure disabled people have equal access to COVID-19 testing and treatment services. We will work with health providers and governments sharing our lessons on how to do this with maximum, life-saving impact.
4. Long Term Protection. We will support powerholders to create inclusive alternate livelihood options for disabled people and implement emergency social protection schemes.
Every second counts
The darkest days of COVID-19 are likely to hit those least equipped to endure them.
“Sudan has a very fragile health system, and it could collapse. Only about 23% of people have access to basic hygiene services (soap and water). We are in daily contact with our disability activist partners through phone calls or WhatsApp. They are producing accessible information materials - short videos, audio messages, posters - that are being circulated to disabled people in their communities”.
“Our primary goal remains keeping women and girls with disabilities alive. We are working on putting together survival packs – rice, tinned food, dried fish, sanitizer - and working with our disability activist partners to have them distributed. We are also sourcing mobiles and tablets so that disabled women can stay connected and receive accessible information about the crisis.”
We must act now to save as many lives as possible.
Please donate, and help us empower and support disability activists to protect the most vulnerable and save lives during this global crisis.