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Cover page of the Journal of Health Sciences


 
 Table of Contents  
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 260-261

Extending an equitable COVID-19 response to the disabled individuals


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission31-May-2020
Date of Acceptance10-Aug-2020
Date of Web Publication05-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/kleuhsj.kleuhsj_168_20

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  Abstract 

The ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected everyone, but the impact is relatively higher among people who are vulnerable, such as disabled, refugee, migrants, elderly, and suffering from preexisting illness. The disabled people are more at the risk of acquisition of infection owing to the limited access to the public health messaging and the fact that if they are subjected to physical distancing, they will find it extremely difficult to survive as they depend on their caregivers for their routine activities. In these difficult times, it is of utmost importance that disabled persons should minimize the probability of exposure to COVID-19, and for this to happen, the government, disability service providers, caregivers, and the local community have to play an important role. In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has started to threaten and increase the disparities of care and services for the disabled individuals. It is the need of the hour to ensure that COVID-19-related services are offered to disabled people in a dignified manner without jeopardizing their human rights.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, disabled, World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Extending an equitable COVID-19 response to the disabled individuals. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2020;13:260-1

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Extending an equitable COVID-19 response to the disabled individuals. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 23];13:260-1. Available from: https://www.ijournalhs.org/text.asp?2020/13/3/260/297188


  Introduction Top


The ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected everyone, but the impact is relatively higher among people who are vulnerable, such as disabled, refugee, migrants, elderly, and suffering from preexisting illness. As on July 29, 2020, a cumulative total of 16,558,289 cases and 656,093 deaths have been attributed to the disease-related complications across the 216 nations and territories wherein the cases of the disease have been reported.[1] The available estimates suggest that in excess of 1 billion people are living with disabilities across the world and they all are very much prone to various illnesses, including COVID-19 infection.[2]


  Coronavirus Disease-19 and Disabled Individuals Top


The disabled people are more at the risk of acquisition of infection owing to the limited access to the public health messaging and the fact that if they are subjected to physical distancing, they will find it extremely difficult to survive as they depend on their caregivers for their food, hygiene, medicines, and routine care.[2],[3] In addition, often they have to feel the objects in the environment, which in itself increases the risk of acquisition of the infection as the disease can be transmitted through fomites. Further, the majority of the disabled individuals might be simultaneously suffering from comorbidities, and this also enhances their vulnerability for a poor outcome of the infection.[3] At the same time, the possibility of limited access to the health-care establishments cannot be ruled out, and thus, all these factors justify the need to improve the services to the disabled individuals during the times of public health emergency.[2],[3]


  Minimizing the Exposure Top


In these difficult times, it is of utmost importance that disabled persons should minimize the probability of exposure to COVID-19, and this can be accomplished by staying indoors and avoiding social gatherings, maintaining adequate stock of essential commodities, utilize the help of family members and caregivers in sustaining personal hygiene, working from home (if condition permits), and ensuring regular disinfection of the assistive products.[3],[4] However, the role of the caregivers is extremely crucial, and thus, the disabled people should develop a plan to ensure continuation of the care and support. Moreover, it is extremely important that the caregivers should take appropriate measures to maintain their mental well-being while taking care of the disabled individuals and staying indoors for prolonged periods of time.[2],[3],[4]


  Potential Solutions Top


The government has an important role to play to ensure that all the necessary public health information is accessible to disabled individuals in the form in which they can understand (viz., captioning, sign language, large print, etc.). In addition, specific relaxation should be given to disabled individuals, their caregivers, and to disability service providers such as financial assistance, special hotline number to clarify doubts, tax reliefs, and issuing personal protective equipment at no cost.[2] The disability service providers should devise a plan to train their staff to perform multiple roles in these difficult times and provide their workforce with the reliable and timely information about different aspects of care, including infection control, use of personal protective equipment, handwashing, etc., Moreover, specific attention should be given toward early identification and immediate intervention to the reports of increased violence, abuse, and neglect.[2],[3]


  Role of Health Sector Top


The health sector has to ensure that the delivered health care is accessible, affordable, and inclusive of the needs of the disabled individuals, and this encompasses both diagnostic, therapeutic, and supportive care.[5] The health sector has to prepare themselves adequately to offer telehealth to disabled people through phones or messages or even extend home-based care or meeting the demands of quarantined or isolated individuals.[2],[5] Finally, the disabled people cannot enjoy their complete rights unless they are well supported by the local community in different aspects of the disease prevention and control.[3],[4]


  Conclusion Top


The COVID-19 pandemic has started to threaten and increase the disparities of care and services for the disabled individuals. It is the need of the hour to ensure that COVID-19-related services are offered to disabled people in a dignified manner without jeopardizing their human rights.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 191; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200729-covid-19-sitrep-191.pdf?sfvrsn=2c327e9e_2. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 30].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Pan American Health Organization. Disability Considerations during the COVID-19 Outbreak. Washington: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Armitage R, Nellums LB. The COVID-19 response must be disability inclusive. Lancet Public Health 2020;5:e257.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Schiariti V. The human rights of children with disabilities during health emergencies: The challenge of COVID-19. Dev Med Child Neurol 2020;62:661.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
World Health Organization. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019nCoV): Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-20.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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