The Chairman of the Disability Forum of Ghana (DFG) has asked Government to include the leadership of Persons living With Disabilities (PWDs) on the committee on the COVID-19 campaign.
This would make the committee able to address issues on disability and understand the situation in order to come up with a good strategy and intervention on how to minimize the impact of the pandemic on PWDs in Ghana, says Mr. Alexander Tetteh.
Mr. Tetteh made this call in an exclusive interview with the media at Tema on the impact of COVID-19 on PWDs and other vulnerable groups in Ghana.
Mr. Tetteh observed that accessibility to public infrastructure and policy environment by PWDs in Ghana was a major problem which had been compounded by the impact of COVID-19. “When we talk about accessibility we are not only talking about the built environment, we are also talking about decision making.”
Mr. Tetteh informed that his outfit was yet to see any budgetary allocation by government to reach PWDs on the Covid-19 campaign and that reliance only of a sign language interpreter during television broadcasts was not enough.
“The campaign should go down to the people; every District Assembly going round with information vans should ensure that the information were designed to reach the vulnerable as well. We can brail some of the materials for the blind, and develop a video about the disease and all that one need to do with the sign language, etc.,” Mr. Tetteh said.
He observed that the lockdown seriously affected PWDs and with no provisions made for them, it posed serious danger to their survival, and therefore vulnerable groups should be identified and some special allocations made to them in terms of daily living and the actual pandemic.
Mr. Tetteh, who is also President of Centre for Employment for PWDs and a Social Development Officer of Tema West Municipal Assembly (TWMA), said the sharing of food items should not be made through churches and mosques since those institutions had no data on PWDs and that not every PWD was a member of a faith based organization.
Mr. Tetteh insisted that every relief item that was to be shared should be done together with the leadership of vulnerable associations and also the National Council of Persons With Disabilities (NCPWDs).
“You work with the associations to mobilize members and NCPWDs and the Social welfare departments of the MMDC which have data on PWDs. Everybody would go and get registered if aid is channeled through the Social welfare departments,” he said.
He informed that treatment at the hospital should also factor in the PWDs and that the designated hospital for the treatment of COVID-19 in Ghana should be accessible with a sign language interpreter.
In addressing the issue of contact tracing, Mr. Tetteh advised that there was the need for an orientation as to how to deal with PWDs since the team members may not be trained on how to handle such persons.
He informed that “PWDs when affected by the virus may not survive. There are people who live on oxygen, people with serious Neuro conditions, etc. These people should be identified and assisted with immune busters, for example, even before COVID-19 gets to them.”