Disabled people and COVID-19

The Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum (CDPF) provided the following principles to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged during the Covid-19 pandemic response.

Preamble

Human Rights are not dispensable because there is a medical emergency. Indeed, the need to protect and ensure that all disabled people have their full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity has never been greater. History shows us that in the past, disabled people have been inhumanely treated at times of political, social and humanitarian/medical crisis and this must not be repeated.

181 countries, including 49 of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth, have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with the above as its purpose. All member countries support the Commonwealth Charter which reaffirms, among other points, the core principles of Democracy, Human Rights, Tolerance, Rule of Law, Sustainable Development, Gender Equality, Access to Education, Health, Nutrition and Shelter and the Role of Civil Society (December 2012).

Principles

  1. Disabled People must receive information about infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans and the services offered in a diversity of accessible formats with use of accessible technologies.
  2. Additional protective measures must be taken for people with certain types of impairment and for many disabled people to function they require close personal assistance from carers or family members.
  3. Rapid awareness-raising and training are essential for all personnel involved in the response. This must include accommodations and support disabled people require.
  4. All preparedness and response plans must be inclusive of and accessible to disabled women and children.
  5. No disability-based institutionalization and abandonment is acceptable.
  6. During quarantine, support services, personal assistance, food and clean water supply, physical and communication accessibility must be ensured.
  7. Measures of public restrictions must consider disabled people on an equal basis with others.
  8. Disabled people in need of health services due to COVID19 cannot be deprioritized on the ground of their disability.
  9. Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) can and should play a key role in raising awareness of disabled people and their families.
  10. DPOs can and should play a key role in advocating for a disability-inclusive response to the COVID19 crisis to their Governments, Health Service and Communities.
  11. Mobility restrictions (social distance, self-isolation, extreme lockdown, or quarantine) will also increase survivors’ vulnerability to abuse and need for protection services. Escape will be more difficult as the abusive partner will be at home all the time.

Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum 

Note from the CDPF: The CDPF use ‘disabled people’ rather than ‘persons with disabilities’, as we are people with long-term physical, psycho-social or mental impairments disabled by the barriers in environment, organisation and attitude that in interaction with our impairments lead to the denial of our full human rights and our disablement.

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