Disability and health in the COVID-19 context: Sharing experiences
The COVID-19 crisis is having a significant impact on people with disabilities. People with disabilities may be at greater risk due to barriers such as inaccessibility to information or increased difficulty in carrying out physical distancing. People with disabilities often experience inequalities and barriers in their access to health care.
PAHO/WHO has been working with ministries of health across the Region to ensure that people with disabilities are taken into account in the management of this crisis. The document "Considerations on disability during the outbreak of COVID-19" was initially published at the end of March.
The Ibero-American Disability Program is an intergovernmental cooperation program, currently made up of the disability authorities of 10 countries: Andorra, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Spain, Mexico and Uruguay. Its objective is to contribute to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in political, economic and social life, through policies that guarantee the full enjoyment and exercise of their rights.
In the framework of the crisis by COVID-19, the Programme issued the first intergovernmental Declaration on COVID-19 and people with disabilities, on March 26.
This webinar aimed to share experiences of collaboration during the COVID-19 crisis between Ministries of Health, disability agencies and other government agencies to ensure that people with disabilities are included in the health response as well as recovery plans.
To share experiences of collaboration during the COVID-19 crisis between Ministries of Health, disability agencies and other government agencies to ensure that people with disabilities are included in the health response as well as recovery plans.
Three countries - Dominican Republic, Andorra and Mexico, shared their experiences of ensuring the people with disabilities are not being left behind in the COVID-19 response. This included a comprehensive guide developed by Mexico, in consultation with disabled peoples groups.
The discussions focussed on the collaboration between the health sector and disability agencies, though also mentioned areas of importance such as work, education and social participation and the impact that the COVID-19 crisis was having for people with disabilities.
Dr Gerry Eijkemans of PAHO and Dr Floyd Morris, Special Rapporteur on Disability of CARICOM, lead the opening remarks, exploring the social determinants of health and how these had significant implications for people with disabilities. Dr Morris also reinforced the importance of engaging with the real experts on disability issues - people with disabilities themselves.
The Umbrella Organisation of people with disabilities in LAtin America and the Caribbean, RIADIS, gave remarks highlighting some of the inequalities being faced by people with disabilities, the concerning information on high numbers of people with disability being impacted and the critical situation of data collection.
The event was cohosted by PAHO and the Iberoamerican Program on the Rights of People with Disabilities and had 280 participants. Also, the session was in Spanish and English, with simultaneous translation, as well as international sign language and subtitles.
- Welcome, introductions and objectives. Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, Head of Unit, Health Promotion and Social Determinants of Health, PAHO
- Disability and COVID-19 - the importance of collaboration . Dr Floyd Morris, Special Rapporteur on Disability, CARICOM (to be confirmed)
- Collaboration experiences in the Dominican Republic: National Council on Disability & Social Policy Area of the Presidency
- Collaboration experiences in Andorra: Ministry of Health & Ministry of Social Affairs
- Development of the Guide for the protection of the health of people with disabilities in the context of COVID-19 in Mexico
- Role of organizations of people with disabilities. Ana Lucía Arellano, IDA
- Conclusions. Mercè Pascual, President of the Ibero-American Disability Programme