We need to back people of determination - GulfToday

We need to back people of determination

Only good on paper

Antonio Guterres. File

The world’s 1 billion people living with disabilities are among the hardest hit by the coronavirus, as highlighted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and this is indeed a matter of huge concern.

The pandemic is revealing the extent to which people are marginalised and is intensifying the inequalities that people of determination already face, such as poverty, violence, neglect and abuse.

Health care access is difficult for most of them in many parts of the world, even in high-income locations. Other barriers include physical obstacles, discriminatory laws and existing stigma.

The risky aspect is also that people of determination face greater risk of job loss and domestic violence. Those who faced employment exclusion before the crisis are now more likely to lose their jobs.

Less than 30 per cent of people with significant disabilities have access to benefits. In low-income countries, the number is only one per cent.

People of determination experience increased risk of contracting COVID-19.  Some may have difficulties in implementing basic hygiene measures to keep the virus at bay.

Others may not be able to practice social distancing because they require care or other support. Women and girls particularly face a greater risk of domestic violence, which has surged during the pandemic.

The UN chief is right in urging governments to place people of determination at the centre of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, and to consult and engage with them.

The UAE, on its part, has provided comprehensive care, quality health, and educational services for the people of determination.

The Ministry of Community Development recently set a series of additional and exceptional precautionary measures to deal with people of determination in light of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, to help parents and caregivers to overcome the challenges surrounding them, and to support them to continue their daily life in safety and security.

Through the Welfare and Rehabilitation Department for People of Determination, the ministry issued a series of procedural instructions and steps that allow parents to help their children with intellectual disabilities cope with the reality of staying at home.

As pointed out by Wafa Hamad Bin Sulaiman, Director of Welfare & Rehabilitation Department for People of Determination, the ministry emphasised the importance of taking additional precautionary measures in dealing with people of determination in the current circumstances, given the many challenges related to their needs, including a person with physical disabilities who may find it difficult to carry out basic hygiene measures such as continuous access to washrooms, or may have physical difficulty rubbing his hands and the expected difficulty in achieving the principle of physical separation from others, given the need for care providers to be in welfare centre for the people of determination.

Wafa Hamad Bin Sulaiman also identified 7 strategies for parents to achieve optimal support for people with autism during home quarantine period: to help them understand what is going on around them in a simplified way, give them the opportunity to express what is on their minds, follow appropriate calming skills with them, maintain as much as possible the daily routine activities they are accustomed to, try to build new routine activities gradually to adapt to the current reality, encourage communication with others remotely, and observe any change in behaviour.

What is important is that people of determination across the world get equal access to prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

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