International development organisation CBM Australia has released the Leave No One Behind report, together with a compelling video, summarising the profound impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities globally, and the compelling need for disability inclusion in Australia’s development and aid response.
The report by CBM Australia and the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC) involved widespread consultations during 2020-2021 with organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) across Asia, the Pacific and Africa.
CBM Australia is urging the Australian Government to do more to save lives. CEO, Jane Edge, said that Australia is a global leader in disability inclusion.
“We were one of the first to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the first to introduce a strategy for disability-inclusive international development,” Edge said.
“However, at a time when the need is greatest, investment in core disability funding has been reduced. We need to see an urgent increase in investment in disability-inclusive recovery in our region.”
The report found that if COVID-19 responses do not actively target people with disabilities and involve them in the decision making as communities start to recover, this group will be left further behind – and further excluded from socio-economic development.
Other research included how OPDs, people with disabilities and their carers are not being consulted or given timely, accessible information about COVID-19, both at national and global levels. It noted a consistent failure to prioritise people with disabilities in COVID-19 prevention efforts and vaccine roll-out, despite their high vulnerability.
The report highlighted the mental health impact on people with disabilities globally, noting increased psychosocial distress with COVID-19 not being adequately addressed as a mental health issue.
It also shed light on the fact that 85% of people with disabilities surveyed in Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines affected by COVID-19 lockdowns were yet to receive any financial assistance.
“With 80% of people with disabilities around the world living in low and middle-income countries, the time for change is now,” Ms Edge said. “The report reveals the vital need to prioritise people with disabilities for early COVID-19 vaccinations, including addressing specific barriers they may have to accessing vaccines and services.
“These could include providing information in accessible formats (braille, and sign-language); ensuring vaccination facilities and services have fully accessible toilets, footpaths, buildings and equipment; and accessible transport,” she said.
The report has been released along with a new video Build Back a Better World for All, ahead of International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD) on 3 December 2021. The video shares the voices of people with disabilities and the challenges they’ve faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the fact that more than half of those who contract and die from COVID-19 are people with a disability.
In the video, Almah, a lifelong disability inclusion advocate from Papua New Guinea, shares her experience of the pandemic.
“As a person with a disability and as a woman with a disability I was really afraid and frightened,” she said. “The message around COVID-19 wasn’t clear. We did not have the right PPE (safety gear) to keep working and we could not be visited in our homes.”
CBM Australia is urging wide sharing of the video on December 3 to help build back a world where all people are included and valued as equal members of society.
Original content from Third Sector News. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.
Nina Alvarez is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel. Her interests include writing, particularly about the healthcare sector and the many ways it can improve to further benefit people from all walks of life.