The National Council on Persons with Disability has advised the Presidency to incorporate and prioritized the needs of persons with disabilities in the National Relief Plan of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
A statement issued by the Executive Secretary of National Council on Persons with Disability, Ms Esther Akua Gyamfi and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday said that Persons with disabilities particularly, persons with auto-immune conditions and persons with multiple disabilities were most likely to have their immune systems easily compromised by this virus.
The Council gave the advice when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo granted them an audience.
The delegation was led by the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Council Mr. Yaw Ofori–Debra, also included; Mr. Alexander Williams and Mr. Mathew Kubachua from Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, Dr. Akwasi Osei of Mental Health Authority, Special Mothers Project represented by Mrs Hannah Awadzi and Mr Frimpong Manso, a Sign language interpreter.
The Council urged the government to make a budgetary allocation towards strategies that target persons with disabilities in the eradication of COVID-19.
The statement said access to information is often a barrier for persons with disabilities who have specific communication needs including; the deaf, deafblind, the hard of hearing, the non-verbal.
“They remain at a higher risk of being socially isolated if deliberate measures are not implemented to include them.”
It, therefore, called on the government to have specific communication needs including; the deaf, the hard of hearing, the non-verbal in the sensitisation on COVID-19.
Others include; sign language interpretations at least within the period of COVID-19 and all information on COVID-19 meant for the public should have a video version with subtitles, captioning and sign language interpretation.
Social distancing is the biggest form of concern to persons with disabilities who depend heavily on human support to go about their daily activities, “The message on social distancing education without the disability component leaves persons with disabilities vulnerable, neglected and potentials for abandonment”.
The statement said sensitisation on social distance must stress on the need for the personal assistants, caregivers, guides to washing their hands and arms and sanitize their hands and arms as they offered support to persons with disabilities.
The Council, however, commended the Government for providing the public with relevant information and awareness on the COVID-19 epidemic, and providing sign language interpretation in some of information dissemination sessions aimed at updating Ghanaians on the situation in the country.