By Ikenna Uwadileke
The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has said that Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in Abuja lacked access to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Mr. David Anyale, the Executive Director of CCD.
Anyaele, who stated this at the public presentation of an assessment report on access to COVID-19 vaccine among PWDs in Abuja, lamented that this would continue until there was a policy action and strategies to address the gaps in knowledge and health services provisions on access to COVID-19 vaccine among PWDs.
According to him, PWDs have continued to witness discrimination, exclusion, denial of priority in the public space and subjected to various physical, structural, communication and institutional barriers in accessing COVID-19 vaccine.
“The major challenge faced by health stakeholders is the mechanisms to improve channels of communication on the COVID-19 vaccine to be more disability inclusive for all persons with disabilities.
“Also, inability to modify the current health facilities that are being used at COVID-19 vaccine centres, so as to be more disability friendly was noted.
“Besides, limited doses of COVID-19 vaccines are available and provisions were made in phases, whereas frontline health workers were prioritised in the ﬁrst phase.
“Another challenge faced by health policy actors include, but not limited to lack of suﬃcient knowledge and scanty data on PWDs’ rights, needs and issues of critical concerns on access to information about the vaccine, among PWDs,’’ he said.
Anyaele urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to collaborate with the National Commission for PWDs to build the capacity of health workers to respond to the needs of all PWDs’ clusters.
Mr Jatau Gbama, representative of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, said that the commission was committed to promoting the welfare of persons with disability and urged them to erase any wrong perceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mrs Agharese Arase, Deputy Director, Vulnerable Groups Department, National Human Rights Commission, emphasised the need for governments and the private sector to prioritise the needs of PWDs. (NAN)