United Nations launches policy brief for persons with disabilities

Accra, May 6, GNA – The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has called on governments to place people with disabilities at the center of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and to consult and engage them accordingly.

“We must guarantee the equal rights of people with disabilities to access healthcare and lifesaving procedures during the pandemic. When we secure the rights of people with disabilities, we are investing in our common future.”

He made the remarks at the launch of a policy brief on a disability inclusive covid response.

The policy brief among other guidelines said existing social protection systems offer little support with only 28 per cent of people with significant disabilities having access to disability benefits globally, and one per cent in low-income countries.

It indicates that people with disabilities must have immediate access to health services — to information, testing and lifesaving procedures.

The policy brief states persons with disabilities should not be discriminated in the provision of life-saving health-care services and ethical principles that prioritize treatment for persons in situations of particular vulnerability must be applied.

The need to expand both mainstream and targeted social protection programme for persons with disabilities and their families, such as increasing payments of disability benefits; extending coverage to persons with disabilities; providing disability top-up grants, including to family members who have to stop work to support persons with disabilities.

It further reiterates that governments, donors, UN agencies and other actors need to establish accountability mechanisms to monitor investments and ensure disability inclusion in the COVID-19 response, including through the collection and disaggregation of data by disability.
New investments must not create new barriers for people with disabilities and must be considered from the design stage.

Humanitarian and disaster contexts create specific and heightened challenges for people with disabilities in the COVID-19 outbreak.

The United Nations says a disability-inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery will provide for more inclusive and accessible systems to achieve the promise of the 2030 Agenda — to leave no one behind.

The United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy is the UN’s commitment to ensuring that the organization is doing its part to achieve transformative and lasting change, including in this crisis.

There are 1 billion persons with disabilities worldwide – they are among the most excluded groups in our society. Even under normal circumstances, they are less likely to access health care, education, employment and more likely to live in poverty and experience violence. COVID-19 further compounds this situation, particularly for people with disabilities in fragile contexts and humanitarian settings.

Persons with disabilities are at greater risk of contracting the virus, developing more severe health conditions and dying from COVID-19. They may experience barriers to implement basic protection measures such as hand washing and maintaining social distance as they often rely on physical contact and support.

Because of underlying conditions they also stand the risk of developing more severe health conditions and dying from COVID-19, the UN said.