The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), has called on governments at both states and federal level to give special preference to people living with disabilities in its palliative measures aimed at cushioning the effect of lockdown.
It explained that the pre-existing daily realities of the PWDs and sudden life changes occassioned by lockdown and restriction placed on movement by government to curb the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria had necessitated the call.
The spokesperson for the group, Ifeanyi Igwegbe, said people living with disabilities were the worst hit by the lockdown, adding that the effect had rendered its members helpless and forced into begging as a result of their unemployment status.
Igwegbe, who is the spokesperson of Anambra chapter of the group, while speaking with newsmen on Tuesday, noted that surviving the harsh effect of the lockdown has been tough, a situation which calls for government buffer to alleviate their suffering.
“The Churches, markets and some other organisations where some PWDs go to beg for survival, are under lockdown.
“Some of our members who are into soap and shoe making as well as other skills acquisition programmes, are now staying at home with no means to even feed, ” he said.
According to him, the need for states and federal government to include the PWDs in it stimulus package in the form of food items and cash assistance to during the lockdown cannot be overemphasized.
The spokesperson singled out the visually impaired persons and persons on wheelchair who relied on caregivers or guides for mobility and work as those who were worst hits among its members, adding that their situation may forced their caregiver to abandoned them as everyone is afraid of contracting the virus.
“We the PWDs are more susceptible to Covid-19 because this social distancing order is not easy for us to adhere to. Most of the PWDs are largely dependent on other people to help us move around and get things done.
“Many people may be reluctant to provide help due to fear of contracting the disease as the coronavirus is highly contagious, ” he said.
Igwegbe urged the state government to also use charts, Infographics or sign language jingles to communicate Covid-19 related information to those who are suffering from hearing impairment.
Furthermore, he called on the government to make Covid-19 related information accessible in audio-formats and Braille for the visually impaired people to understand better.
“We appeal that he extends same generosity to us to alleviate our sufferings, “he said.