COVID-19 lockdown proving to be doubly testing for the disabled

A couple, both blind, used to weave mats, baskets and chairs for a living. Ever since the lockdown was announced, though, life has turned upside down. Out of work, and out of money, they were at a loss about how and where to get essentials from. They then heard of a helpline for persons with disabilities and reached out to them. The NGO staff reached their slum in J.P. Nagar with a 15-kg bag of ration, soaps and other essentials that will last them at least till the end of the lockdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has affected various sections of society, and among them are persons with disabilities.

Helplines started by NGOs working in the sector have found several instances of this. City-based Samarthanam Trust has received around 1,000 calls in just three days since they launched. They have been distributing provisions to those in need apart from lending help in emergency situations by joining hands and mobilising resources from corporates, individual donors, institutions, agencies and the government.

The helpline started by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) has been receiving up to 10 genuine calls a day from across the country. Among the calls they have received so far includes a person with disability in Nagpur not being able to take his pregnant wife to the hospital without transportation, and people with thalassemia facing difficulty in blood transfusion as limited blood is available in hospitals.

The NCPEDP has pointed out that getting hold of essentials is a big challenge across the country, as persons with disabilities, who have mobility issues, have to step out to buy essentials. Those who had arranged for caregivers are also hit as the caregivers are unable to reach them.

Arman Ali, Executive Director, NCPEDP said that the calls coming in were ranging from problems such as a broken walker of an amputee, to a group of blind men clueless about how they can get oil and salt as they had been given only wheat.

“Persons with disabilities are in all the States, not just the few that are taking proactive steps. The fundamental right to life and dignity cannot be dispensed with even in a medical emergency. People with disabilities are not a homogeneous, distinct group. They are to be found in every strata of society and in every aspect of life, and they need to be enabled during this pandemic,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 5:10:02 AM |

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