Pandemic impacted the disabled more

Persons with disabilities and pre-existing medical problems suffered significantly more during COVID-19 lockdown with pyscho-social problems of "isolation, abandonment, and violence" and 81.6% reported experiencing “moderate to high levels of stress”.

This is according to a study conducted to understand the pandemic impact on the disabled by Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad (IIPH), a constituent unit of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), in collaboration with CBM India and Humanity & Inclusion.

The pandemic had impacted the health/ mental health and rehabilitation, education, livelihood and social participation of the disabled with two out of every five people or 42.5%, reporting access to routine medical care was difficult including those with a pre-existing medical condition (12.7%). About 58% of them stated facing difficulty.

While 34.5% sought information on mental health issues, only 25.9% had access to such services. Just 20% were able to get regular counselling or therapy and 11.4% faced problems getting regular psychiatric medicines. About 58.2% were unhappy because therapy sessions for their child had ceased and 84.2% stated their daily lives had been impacted.

"Lack of mobility in accessing health and rehabilitation led to distress and the disabled suffered more than the rest. We need to be adequately prepared so as not to compromise on health needs of the disabled as the country has committed itself to the goal of 'Universal Health Care' as part of social development goals,” said lead author and IIPH - H director G.V.S. Murthy.

CBM India's managing trustee Sara Varughese said: “Lockdown had a negative psychological impact on the differently-abled as they were totally left out. Economic difficulties were the common reason with many unable to access basic necessities. "The disabled have unique needs and we must recognize the differences and support them to take appropriate steps," said acting regional director of ‘Humanity & Inclusion’ Raju Palanchoke.

Other study highlights are: 35% reported the need of out-patient services at hospitals/clinics and 55% had difficulty in getting it, 16.6% needed emergency medical care yet 45% among them had difficulty, 35.7% needed medicines and 46% faced problems, 58% needing regular blood pressure monitoring could not get it done, 5.2% needed surgical procedures but 47.6% could not. About 45.7% were forced to borrow money for livelihood and 84.7% had to borrow or request for support for food.

Special assistance and disabled-friendly COVID-19 protocols, providing access to masks, disinfectants, etc; enable tele-rehabilitation and online counselling for mental health issues, financial assistance for livelihoods, online education for children in accessible formats with free net facility, etc., were among the recommendations made.

Across 14 states

Study had a sample size of 403, of which 60% were male and 40% female with respondents consisting of 51.6% physical impairment, 16.1% with visual impairment, 19% with intellectual impairment, and 9.2% with speech and hearing impairment. It was conducted across 14 states Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh,

Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Maharashtra. Cross-section survey was repeated for second time, six weeks after the first interview on a randomly identified 25% sub sample to discern any change in trends over this period.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 4:06:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/pandemic-impacted-disabled-more/article33243446.ece

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