Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a deadly pandemic threatening humanity across the globe. COVID-19 is a virus that originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The COVID-19 has impacted all the lives and for the Physically Challenged (PC) is an uphill |& gigantic task.
The Government of India has made extensive measures to contain the disease. The Ministry of Health from time to time is issuing guidelines for citizens, how to avoid COVID-19 infection. Unfortunately, the soft targets are the physically challenged population. As per the Census 2011, In India out of the 121 Cr population, 2.68 Cr persons are ‘physically challenged’ which is 2.21% of the total population.
Differently-abled in India are worst hit by frequent lockdowns and not enough of care is given by the Government other than paying them a meager sum of Rs. 1000/ per month. Even the majority of the disabled couldn’t get the benefit of this small sum due to not having certificates. The various initiatives of the government, have failed to reduce the misery & burden of the disabled. The Census of 2011 reveals that every 10th household in India has a disabled member. The families with disabled members, elderly populations & persons with chronic health conditions are hard hit by Covid-19. Not much attention is given by media, people’s representatives, and policymakers in at least partially defraying their burden.
Physically challenged (PC) are vulnerable to Covid-19 compared to others. How PC can maintain social distance?. He/she needs support from family members to hold them take to the washroom, make them sit, and lend a helping hand for walking. They can’t reach to basin frequently to wash their hands. They have serious limitations to adhere to the guidelines put out by the Government.
Further, most of the PC are largely dependent on the caregivers (family, relatives, or professionals). Many caregivers may be reluctant to provide their services as the coronavirus is highly contagious. Persons with intellectual impairment cannot be expected to practice or cope with self-isolation.
The challenges faced by PC in the COVID-19 Crisis:
• It is difficult for the disabled to understand the guidelines and instructions given by the Government of India and the Media. For the visually impaired it becomes indigestible because the language used is not visually impaired friendly as they recognize the language of touch ie., Braille language. It is also very difficult for the people with speech and hearing impaired to understand the guideline and instructions given by the Government of India as they understand the language when they see (Sign Language).
• It was seen that many companies deducted the salary of the employees as the economic problem caused in the lockdown situation. It is seen that people with disabilities need help in their day to day chores also, hence the company should identify the needs of such people and should exclude such people from salary cuts. In a few cases they are the sole breadwinners for the families.
• PC are immunocompromised & are likely to fall prey to the infectious disease. Many of the PC have lost their jobs or serving with reduced salaries. They can’t afford to stay at home and neither go to Office as they constantly face the threat of encountering the disease. The physically challenged don’t need sympathy they need the support and cooperation of the society.
These are few but genuine challenges faced by people with disability in the present COVID-19 situation. The government and society need to be sensitive to understand the needs of the disabled people and extend their helping hand. The government can also use languages like Braille and sign language in the guidance given so that the visually and hearing impaired will easily understand them.
• I request the people representatives of Belagavi to kindly organize a meeting of all Physically Challenged people (Divyang’s) interact with them, listen to their problems and address their grievances.
• All Divyang’s kindly share this article with fellow Divyang’s and support and encourage each other.
I request all the Divyang’s to keep in good health and challenge the threat posed by COVID-19 by keeping fit and healthy. Stay Healthy Stay Safe.
About the Author: Sanket Mamadapur, MBA E mail: email@example.com