The lockdowns due to Covid-19 were harder for people with disabilities (PwDs) with a study noting that about 84.7 per cent participants interviewed had to borrow food to cope with financial crisis, 81 per cent reported experiencing high levels of stress while 28 per cent postponed their scheduled medical appointments.
The CBM India, in collaboration with IIPH Hyderabad and Humanity & Inclusion had conducted the study across 14 States on the Impact of Covid-19 on PwDs with an aim to understand the level of disruption on their living conditions and related restrictions.
“The aim was also to generate evidence to be prepared for future pandemics or emergencies, “ said Prof GVS Murthy, Director, IIPH Hyderabad. The observations were distressing as study revealed that the pandemic impacted the health/ mental health and rehabilitation, education, livelihood and social participation of PwDs.
For instance, 42.5 per cent, i.e., two out of every five PwDs reported that lockdown had made it difficult for them to access routine medical care even as isolation, abandonment, and violence were other worrying psycho-social problems reported, reflecting the lack of empathy on the part of their family during the difficult times.
At least 81.6 per cent reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress. Among the 34.5 per cent who stated that they needed information on mental health issues, only 25.9 per cent had access to such services.
Only 20 per cent were able to get regular mental health counselling or therapy related services during the lockdown period, and 11.4 per cent faced problems getting their regular psychiatric medicines. 58.2 per cent were unhappy that the therapy sessions for their child with disability has ceased during the lockdown, said the study. Participants with varied impairments like physical, visual, intellectual and speech and hearing impairments were from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Maharashtra.
“People with disability suffered significantly more than the rest of the population in accessing health and rehabilitation care during the Covid lockdown. We need to be adequately prepared so that we do not comprise their health needs,” said Prof Murthy while Dr. Sara Varughese from CBM India, added “Many faced difficulties in even accessing basic necessities. Incomes were compromised and even withdrawing their money from their bank accounts was a challenge.”
The lockdown also posed major difficulties in accessing medicines due to travel restrictions, out-patient services at hospitals/clinics, regular blood pressure monitoring, rehabilitation services.