Picture above: (Left)the host Mai Chisamba, (centre left) CBM Programmes Officer, Mrs Chiedza Musvosvi, (centre left) Senator for Persons with Disabilities, Hon Nasper Manyau and (right) FODPZ NEC Secretary, Mr.Taurai Kadzviti.
Picture: Back (FODPZ Secreritariat) front (Hon.Senator Nasper Manyau and Mr.Taurai Kadzvit, FODPZ NEC Secretary).
The COVID 19 epidemic brought its unique challenges that are compounded by pre-existing vulnerabilities and disadvantages among persons with disabilities. They are at higher risk of contracting COVID19 due to barriers in accessing preventive information and hygiene, reliance on physical contact with the environment or support persons, as well as respiratory conditions associated with certain impairments. For instance:
- Persons with developmental disabilities (DD) have dual diagnosis and in some cases multiple disabilities. Some of the disabilities that co-occur with DD are usually psychosocial like epilepsy and health related impairments like asthma and cardio vascular conditions.
- With progressive loss of muscle strength, individuals with duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) are at greater risk of respiratory complications including ineffective cough, lower respiratory tract infections, nocturnal hypoventilation and/or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and ultimately day time respiratory failure. The muscles used for breathing (called the respiratory muscles) are affected at some stage. This can cause breathlessness and other symptoms such as tiredness, disturbed sleep and poor concentration. Generally, the higher up the level of the injury is to the spinal cord, the more severe symptoms which affect the respiratory muscles and the ability to breathe making most wheelchair users with spinal injuries more vulnerable.
- Children with autism are in confusion because of the third world for them. This means that they are from their world and we bring them into our own world with rehabilitation. Now, this COVID experience is totally new to them because of sensory issues. They are required to put them to the virus. COVID-19 test is difficult to execute on these children due to sensory issues. This justifies persons with disabilities to be listed as target population as most of them are at greater risk due to underlying conditions and heightened vulnerability related to their impairments and proximity to their support persons and assistive devices. Persons with disabilities should be prioritized in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies that include pandemics, natural disasters and conflict.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on various impairments, FODPZ in collaboration with CBM intends to raise awareness on COVID-19 and encourage vaccination among persons with disabilities. Government is therefore summoned to unveil statistics on persons with disabilities who have been vaccinated since the roll-out of the vaccine in 2021 and possibly promote its uptake by dispelling myths and misconceptions around vaccination