United Nations Response to Covid-19 and Persons with Disability


Persons with Disability: The start of the year 2020 witnessed the outbreak of a zoonotic disease, the Corona Virus Disease which led to a global pandemic and caused distress in the entire world. Few of the many common symptoms of Covid-19 are cough and cold, high fever, breathing inaccuracies and the dangerous of them all, death. Every country in the world has taken measures to curb the spread of this disease but it has been proved a rather difficult task and has out done everyone’s expectation but in a negative manner. Whilst research on a vaccination to stop this disease is on the go, many countries have taken severe and strict steps to halt the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, Quarantine being one of them. Quarantine or lockdown of an entire place will ensure that there is no contact among persons and hence would stop the CoronaVirus disease to multiply. But there has been an adverse effect of such lockdown towards many marginalised or weak sections and communities of the social strata. One of them being, people who suffer a kind of disability. It is a known fact, that a person with disability has more needs compared to a person who does not suffer from any kind of disability, but the burden of lockdown has resulted in zero physical communication and there has been abandonment of help that such a person would require.

On the 29th of April 2020, the United Nations introduced certain guidelines to govern the state of affairs in its member countries with regard to restriction imposed to fight the global pandemic. Few of the guidelines state that priority shall be given to a person with disability over any other for testing of patients owing to the Covid-19 and also that differently abled groups shall not be denied any medical facility on the basis of their health condition (physical and mental), along with it awareness programs shall be organised in order to educate the differently abled about the pandemic and how they as individuals can fight it. The United Nations also emphasised on continuous distribution of medicines as and when needed to the people suffering with disability. The statement issued by the UN, also comprises of efforts taken by the different countries with respect to the differently abled class of people and how different methods have been used to provide full assistance to such people.

On the 5th of May, 2020 the United Nations issued another UN-SG joint statement addressing the local governments and persons with disabilities in relation to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The joint statement addressed the ill effect of the pandemic on the differently abled people and gave key focus on the people with disability who lack financial assistance in the current circumstances to tackle huge lockdown impositions.  The statement contained the 2030 agenda of sustainable development but focused on the ongoing pandemic and how it would affect different parts of the world and would be nothing but a hurdle in the path of progress. It laid importance on creating a global network of help between different cities and local government so that the common goal of development is not hindered. The United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability was briefly taken into account in the statement released on the above mentioned date.

Apart from the United Nations, the International Disability Alliance with the help of its other partners and stake holders has launched a disability rights monitor to help the differently abled. It also issued certain recommendations which the countries present worldwide can adopt in other to reduce the hardships of people suffering from disability. Key recommendations made by the body included taking into consideration the plight of people with disability when discussing countrywide public restriction, during quarantine call centres and health and medical services ought to be ensured and additional measures shall be taken in order to prevent any hardship faced by a person with disability.

Quarantine measures in the whole wide world have brought the global economy to a pause and it is safe to say that it will take a lot of effort as a team to fight the ongoing pandemic. What every one of us needs to realise is that it is a situation where each one of us deserve support and peace and every person irrespective of their mental or physical health conditions require a healthy lifestyle. Just like the conventions of the United Nations and International Disability Alliance, every person should do their part in order to help the needy.

– Anushree Belwariar | Member | Centre for Rights of Differently Abled


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