Discrimination Campaign – COVID19 #WHA73

The International Disability Alliance and the International Disability and Development Consortium have launched a Covid19 Discrimination campaign to call to raise awareness of examples of the discrimination that persons with disabilities experience in accessing services and call on the global community on the critical and urgent need to deliver disability inclusive COVID-19 responses at global, national and local levels.

The issue:

The one billion persons with disabilities are one of the most excluded groups in our society. The World Health Organisation and various other UN agencies are reporting that people with disabilities are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

The issue of discrimination is particularly pressing. Evidence suggests that persons with disabilities are among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dangerous narratives have been emerging that people with disabilities cannot contribute to the response to COVID-19, make their own decisions and most worryingly, that their lives are not considered as worth saving compared to others – in direct contradiction of the UNCRPD and all other human rights instruments.

The Aim:

The campaign will raise awareness of examples of the discrimination that persons with disabilities experience in accessing services (such as health services) during the global pandemic. It will call on the global community on the critical and urgent need to deliver disability inclusive COVID-19 responses at global, national and local levels.

This phase of the campaign will launch to coincide with the World Health Assembly. The public facing elements of the campaign will support the advocacy statement given to the World Health Assembly. The campaign will use the World Health Assembly to highlight the particular barriers persons with disabilities experience accessing health services and why the need to act is so critical and urgent.

Key Campaign Messages:

  • People with disabilities are being disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Information is not being made available in accessible formats, so persons with disabilities are denied their right to make informed decisions.
  • Negative attitudes mean persons with disabilities are often considered less of a priority to receive critical health care, or their lives seen as worth less than the lives of persons without disabilities.
  • Social distancing may be particularly challenging for persons with disabilities who require support with personal care.

Persons with disabilities are also more likely to live in institutional settings, which have been shown to be an environment where the COVID-19 virus is exacerbated.

Physical buildings (including health facilities, and testing and quarantine centers) are often inaccessible, and reasonable accommodations like interpreters are often not available.
In many situation, COVID-19 health responses have hindered access to other health services for persons with disabilities. Often, these health services are important and lifesaving, such as rehabilitation services and medicine for people with epilepsy.

Women and girls with disabilities face additional barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health and rights.

World Health Assembly Statement

The Seventy-third of the World Health Assembly will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 17 – 21 May 2020. The WHA is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.
The International Disability Alliance (IDA) and International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) members have submitted written statements to be considered under provisional agenda item 3 Address by WHO Director-General devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic response in advance of the opening of the Health Assembly.

Access the official statements here.

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Dementia Alliance International, a an organiszation representing the more than 52 million people with dementia, who are all people with acquited disabilities, thanks IDA and IDDC for their continued advocacy to realise the disability rights for us all.