Persons with disabilities in Karonga have cried foul over the continued side-lining of people with disabilities by authorities in COVID-19 related committees and activities in the district.
The concern follows revelations from Federation for Disability Organizations of Malawi (FEDOMA Karonga Chapter and Karonga for the Blind) who claimed that their members are yet to receive any formal orientations on COVID-19 prevention measures by stakeholders fighting Coronavirus in the district.
Speaking in an interview, Noah Simwaka FEDOMA Chairperson for Karonga, said it is unfortunate that despite Malawi being in the midst the pandemic people with disabilities are yet to be reached with information on how they can protect themselves from catching the deadly virus.
“As much as we are aware that the virus has affected all of society and their livelihood but we people living with disabilities have it worse as our lives have completely ground to a halt as due to our disabilities we are stationed home unable to go out to conduct our businesses as people are afraid to assist us to hold our hands or help to push our wheel chairs due to fear of contracting the virus,” he lamented.
Simwaka also bemoaned the continued lack of representation of persons with disabilities in COVID-19 committees saying this is retrogressive in the fight for equality and inclusion of persons with disabilities in decision-making positions.
John Mwambiyale, chairperson for Karonga for the Blind, said it was disheartening to note that able bodied persons had undergone formal orientations on how they can protect themselves from catching the virus but persons with disabilities had not.
“Most of our members reside in the rural areas and have no form of a radio thus miss out on COVID-19 information and messages hence our appeal to Government and other stakeholders for formal training to our members because they are also Malawian and deserve access to information on how they can protect themselves during this pandemic,” he said.
Reacting to the outcries, District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO) for Karonga, Lewis Tukula, said while there was no special program arranged to include persons with disabilities in the outreach programs of COVID-19, it came out as a need in the comprehensive planning in the next phase.
He added that plans are already in motion for outreach activities targeting persons with albinism.
Currently, Malawi has recorded 358 Corona Virus cases with 42 recoveries and 4 fatalities.