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N/R: Disability groups bemoan exclusion in first phase of vaccination

Bello Mohammed, the northern region chairperson of the Ghana Blind Union in an interview with Edward A. Ken-Zorre in Tamale said no member of his association has been vaccinated though most of them are above sixty years and are living with underlining health conditions. Image by Edward A. Ken-Zorre for ZAMIREPORTS.

An April 19, 2021 policy brief by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 by persons with disabilities. W.H.O charged States to “take into account the vulnerabilities, risks and needs of groups who, because of underlying societal, geographic or biomedical factors, are at risk of experiencing greater burdens from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It also advised national vaccination deployment to identify and inculcate actions to address barriers to vaccination, and ensure that persons with disabilities who meet the criteria for vaccination, have access on an equal basis with others. This advice from W.H.O and UNICEF may have gone unheeded to as members of the disability association in the Northern region are yet to receive any jab though the country has concluded the phase two of its vaccination exercise drive for eligible persons.

Bello Mohammed, the northern region chairperson of the Ghana Blind Union in an interview with Edward A. Ken-Zorre in Tamale said no member of his association has been vaccinated though most of them are above sixty years and are living with underlining health conditions.

He revealed the regional health directorate reached out to the association at a very short time.

“We can’t move without help so when the regional health promotion officer, Rahinatu Yakubu called that they were coming to give us the vaccines, I called my members and no one could make it because our aides had all gone out”, he hinted.

Madam Mariatu Alhassan, a physically challenged person claimed she only heard in the news that vaccines were meant for the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.

“I only heard of it on TV when the President always come to say fellow Ghanaians, but in Tamale here I’ve not heard that the vaccines had arrived and people could go for their jabs. What I know is that, they said government was distributing it in Accra, Kumasi and Central region.”

“Government should have thought about the disabled people too, and decide that this amount of the vaccine is for disabled people because we’re already vulnerable.”

The regional treasure for the Ghana Blind Union, Mercy Apoe is hypertensive but has not received a jab yet.

“I expected to see the Ghana Health Service making some efforts to reach out to us so we can also be protected against this virus because if any of us get this virus, our guide will also get it since we do everything together”, the 63-year-old lamented. Mercy Apoe urged government and the Ghana Health Service to make special provision for the disability community during the next phase of vaccination.

It is estimated that persons 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 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 disabilities.

Disability Act, 2006.

The Ghana Persons with Disability Act, 2006 Act 715, provides for all Ghanaians living with any form of disability the right to health care and medical treatment. Section 7 of the Act, provides that a person who provides service to the public shall put in place the necessary facilities that make the service available and accessible to a person with disability.

But persons with disability in the Northern region argue this provision of the Act has not been met by government and her partners in the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccines and are calling on government to make the necessary amends.

COVID-19 Data and Vaccinations.

According to the Ghana Health Service information website, at 4:00PM on May 7, 2021, some 852,047 vaccines had been administered across Ghana. The country since the outbreak of the Coronavirus has recorded 787 deaths and a cumulative confirmed case of 94,228. Some 92,362 people have also been treated and discharged with 1,079 Active cases. Forty new cases had been recorded as at eighth June 2021.

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

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

 

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