CHR asks gov’t to assist PWDs affected by month-long quarantine
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has asked government units to assist people with disabilities (PWD) during the month-long, Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Monday that due to the ECQ, it has become more challenging for PWDs to cope, especially that public transportation is suspended, while hospitals have their hands full with patients afflicted with the coronavirus disease.
“In the country, majority of Filipinos with disabilities belong to poor families with minimum wage earners under the ‘no work, no pay’ scheme. They do not have enough money to stock up on basic food items, medicines, and other essentials, such as hygiene kits for women,” De Guia said in a message coinciding with the 16th year celebration of Women with Disabilities Day, which is held every March 30.
“Equal access to additional financial aid and relief goods are crucial to reduce the risk of Persons with Disabilities and their families from falling into greater vulnerability and impoverishment,” she added.
CHR asked government to ensure that services are being provided to PWDs, as they are more vulnerable to the negative effects of the ECQ — like the risk of being submitted to domestic violence due to their lengthened stay at home.
“With containment measures such as the enhanced community quarantine and physical distancing, it would be harder for those who rely on other’s support to survive. This particularly affects women with disabilities as they are mostly the caregivers in their households,” De Guia noted.
“This put them too at an increased risk of gender-based violence due to heightened anxieties and frustrations inside the household. Furthermore, people with psychosocial disabilities, such as anxiety or depression, may be in particular distress especially under self-isolation,” she added.
But aside from such services, CHR also wants unhampered delivery of information to PWDs, by means of sign language or subtitles which will make deaf and people hard of hearing to know the news.
“We urge the government to ensure that all national and local emergency preparedness plans accommodate the special needs of Persons with Disabilities. They should be included in the distribution of relief goods regardless of their status, employment benefits, transportation plans, and access to other health services specifically on the prevention and mitigation of the disease,” De Guia explained.
“We also call on the government to widely implement the Filipino Sign Language law in communicating COVID-related information for the deaf and people who are hard of hearing,” she added.
As of Monday, the entire Luzon and other towns down south have implemented an an ECQ, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Health officials said that that there are now 1,546 patients infected with COVID-19, 78 of which have already died while at least 42 have recovered.
Worldwide, 713,258 persons have been confirmed to have the latest coronavirus strain, while 33,658 have died from the disease and 148,707 have recovered from it.
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