Pro-child group asks LGUs to look after children with disabilities amid ECQ
MANILA, Philippines – A child advocate group has prodded local government units (LGUs) to also place measures that would protect and nourish children with disabilities as efforts are currently focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Save the Children Philippines explained on Tuesday that children with disabilities are most vulnerable during the quarantine period due to the health crisis, as health therapies and other services were temporarily closed.
What LGUs can do, the group said, is for local health centers to be designated as facilities where therapy may be done, and where medicinal and psychosocial needs may be addressed.
“Children with disabilities continue to face social exclusion, discrimination and the lack of health services and therapy during quarantine which could lead to lifelong and devastating impact in their development,” Save the Children Philippines chief executive officer Atty. Alberto Muyot said in a statement.
Save the Children cited the case of a couple who was transferred from a shanty area in Pasay City to a resettlement site in Tanay, Rizal, which is still without electricity and water services. According to the group, two of the three children in the family, aged five and six, are still unable to talk.
The suspension of work due to the pandemic even made things worse for Merlina, not her true name, as her husband lost his work as a construction worker in Laguna.
“While the current crisis poses complex challenges, it encourages us to innovate and collaborate with each other to support the most vulnerable children,” Save the Children’s Basic Education Advisor Sierra Paraan said.
“Government response plans should clearly indicate support and action for children with disabilities, particularly those who are in deprived situations and living in hard-to-reach areas,” Paraan added.
Last March 30 — just two weeks into the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Luzon and other areas — the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) asked the government to also assist persons with disabilities (PWDs) affected by the lockdown, especially as access to certain services has become more difficult.
Aside from the suspension of mass transportation, CHR lamented that PWDs find it hard to avail the medicine that they need.
CHR also urged the government to ensure that maternal and children’s health are protected even as the coronavirus cases continue to pile up.
While the government has implemented several programs to attend to the needs of people stuck during the lockdown without any income, like the social amelioration program (SAP), the group said that it might not be enough as these quarantine measures might have serious impacts on the lives of children with disabilities and their families.
“We call for the strengthening of collaboration between the government and Disability Peoples’ Organization, civil society, parent groups and the private sector who should be part of the COVID-19 response,” Paraan asked.
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