COVID-19 has presented us with real and very unique challenges in all aspects of life. This has raised the need for two major things; need for responsibility and flexibility in life. It has shown us that in deed life is a journey that requires; ideas, invites debate, engagement and action by governments, local organizations, civil society, churches, international organizations, educational professionals, as well as citizens and stakeholders at all levels.
The Impact of COVID-19 on PWDs and Other Vulnerable Groups
- On social lives: There have been cases of increased isolation, these are groups of people who have known isolation as part of life, with the pandemic and the fear for infection, many have found themselves left alone with no one to give them both company and the support needed. There have been cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence. Many people with disabilities have been locked up with their abusive partners and this has even increased the already existing cases of intimate partner violence. The elderly as part of the vulnerable have also been abused in similar ways, young children have been exposed to cyber insecurities, and young girls have been defiled leading to increased cases of teenage pregnancies. When schools closed due to the pandemic, the single mothers had to start being the only main care givers to their children, leaving the children alone has been an issue due to the security risks involved. The homeless children have also been affected, accommodation for them may seem to be an obvious challenge but the pandemic has made it even harder due to the effected curfew rules that have led them to being send away from their usual spaces as well as less populated areas leading to no help from the public with food and other needs as it is normally the case, in cases of infections, these children are not able to access or even afford medication.
- Economic aspect: Many people with disabilities found themselves among the citizens who lost their jobs, those who had businesses had to close down because the client scope went down. Single mothers have lost jobs like any other person and they also have lost their business making it hard to meet their family needs especially being the only providers in their homes.
- Health aspect: People with psychosocial disabilities and other people with mental illnesses have been affected a lot. They already are fighting unstable mental health and the pandemic has doubled the anxiety, depression and fear in them. Accessing treatment for non-Corona related illnesses has been a big challenge due to the controlled visits patients are making to health facilities.
Any other: Access to medication, food and other essential things became a challenge to people with disabilities. This is due to a number of reasons; loss of sources of income, inability to go to the stores, pharmacies and other places to get the commodities due to fear of infection and controlled movements.
Inclusion is the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Inclusion is for all and all simply means all, persons with disabilities included.
Steps to building an inclusive post COVID 19 world.
- We should commit to strengthen education at all levels and in all forms as a common good. Education works to eradicate inequality and exclusion.
- Expand the definition of human rights so that it addresses the importance of human connections and access to resources.
- Value the power of knowledge and innovation. This can play a big role in coming up with ways to deal with the “new normal”
- Promote equal participation of all people including people with disabilities.
- Protect the social and virtual spaces to ensure security in all shared spaces e.g cyber security on the internet.
- We need to now consider making technology accessible, available, and affordable or free if possible. There should be open access to virtual and digital resources in formats that can be used by people with different types of disabilities.
- For the sake of understanding our health in basic ways and how to both prevent and manage health conditions, we should ensure basic scientific literacy is available.
- Flexibility is key, we cannot thrive with a ready-made approach to life. We need to build content from the pedagogical spaces of experience and human relationships.
- We need to advance global solidarity and embrace the spirit of knee jerk approach as well as systematic approach to problem solving.