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N/R: Covid-19 Vaccination – No structured process for Persons Living with Disabilities

The World Health Organization has classified People with Disabilities (PWDS) as a critical care group and that they may be at “greater risk” of contracting the novel COVID-19.

In its “Disability Considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak” policy brief, WHO classified the group as said “disproportionately impacted” thus needed inclusion in the fight against the virus. It indicated that equitable access must be a guiding principle for all immunization programmes – urging governments to ensure people with disabilities are covered.

It is estimated that persons living with disabilities comprise about 15 per cent of the world’s population, of whom 80 per cent live in developing countries. In Ghana, 737,743 persons were identified as persons living with some form of disability during the 2010 population and housing census. This translates into about 3% of the population of Ghana having some form of disability.

PWDs Vaccination in Northern region.

As part of the Mobilizing Media to Fighting Covid-19 project by Journalists for Human Rights, Edward Ken-Zorre in his article, COVID-19 Vaccines and the dilemma of the disability community in the Northern region published in June 2021, highlighted the plight of persons living with disabilities in accessing covid-19 vaccines. The story chronicled the many hurdles members of the federation of disabilities in the region were faced with, in the wake of inoculation drives globally.

Almost four months after the publication, the Northern Regional Health Directorate is yet to develop a vaccination plan for the group. Chairman of the Resource Centre for Persons Living with Disabilities, Mohammed Chantimah revealed the limitations faced by its members is hampering the effectiveness of the inoculation among members.

“One is the availability of information; we don’t even have the information that the vaccines are in town and the other is the location of the centres. Most of us can’t move so getting to the centres is a problem,” he told ZAMI REPORTS.

“But I can tell you our members are exposed and in great danger, it is just GOD that is keeping us in this COVID era,” he added.

According to Mohammed Chantimah, nearly 1,500 persons living within the Tamale Metropolitan area and the Sagnarigu Municipality have some form of disability.

“This is a big community that the regional health directorate should consider and plan to vaccinate us because as of now, only a few of us who have got some level of education can get the vaccine and you know the level of education here is very low,” he lamented.

Deputy Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service in charge of Public Health, Dr Hilarius A. K. Abiwu explained that his outfit was “racing against time” since the vaccine was almost getting to its expiry date during the first vaccination period and could not factor in the disability community.

According to him, the regional health directorate could not have made any provision for the disability community since they had not taken the first dose.

“They are a special group and how to get them organized is an issue so for me. We’re told that we will be receiving 30,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine for both the first and second dose together so if they give us 30, 000 doses, we can give 15,000 for the first and after 21 days we can organize and give the second dose,” Abiwu hinted.

But there seems to be a glim of hope for the group.

“So, if this plan is in place, we can have an arrangement with them and give them the first dose and also plan with them specifically when they will have their second dose without any challenge but for now, we can’t put them within this Aastrazeneca that we don’t have a clear schedule yet,” he added.

Vaccination in Ghana.

As of twenty-first October 2021, the Ghana Health Service according to its dashboard had vaccinated some of 2,842,857 people across all 16 regions of Ghana. At least, 2,179,880 persons had received one dose while some 829,044 persons had been fully vaccinated. Again, some 2,652,299 had taken their first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines whiles 16, 455 people had taken their first and second doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine.

While some 8,036 persons have also received their first dose of the Moderna Vaccine – some 166,067 persons had been vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

The ongoing vaccination exercise is part of the government’s efforts to attain herd immunity targeted at vaccinating some twenty million of its total population of 30.8 million by the end of 2021. The country received some 1.3 million doses of Pfizer vaccines courtesy of the United States Government via the COVAX Facility.

Ghana’s case count.

Ghana, since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, has recorded 1,172 deaths and a cumulative confirmed Cases of 129,948. 126,813 people have also been discharged with 2,963 Active cases. According to the Ghana Health Service COVID-19 updates online platform, 72 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded as of Monday, October 25, 2021.

Globally, as of 4:52 pm CEST, twenty-sixth October 2021, there have been 243,857,028 confirmed cases, including 4,953,246 deaths, reported to WHO. As of twenty-fifth October 2021, a total of 6,697,607,393 vaccine doses have been administered.

This story is supported by Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting Covid-19 project.

By: Edward Ken-Zorre | www.zamireports.com | Tamale.



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