As the new doses of covid-19 Vaccines arrived Nigeria from Johnson and Johnson, the Center for Citizens with Disability (CCD) has lamented over the maltreatment and inequality meted on the People living with disability in Nigeria (PWDs) since the outbreak of covid-19 and calls for equal opportunity for the PWDs in the distribution process of the vaccine.
The Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), David Anyaele said this yesterday during the Public Presentation of Report on Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Among Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Abuja FCT. Saying that PWDs in Nigeria have continued to witness discrimination, exclusion, denial of priority in public space, and subjected to various physical, structural, communication and institutional barriers in accessing health and social services in the country.
He further pointed out that no provision was made to step down any training or programmes on COVID-19 vaccine among persons with albinism clusters in Abuja and by implication, this high level of exclusion has further institutionalised discrimination against PWDs in accessing COVID-19 vaccine in Abuja.
“Observation shows that there is no deliberate and specific commitment from the government towards social and health inclusion of PWDs in their COVID-19 Vaccine programmes since its arrival and Governments’ effort in reducing the socioeconomic health inequity and epidemiology burden of COVID-19 pandemic in Abuja FCT would be ineffective without deliberate inclusion and mainstreaming of issues of critical important to the disability community.
Anyaele said that majority of the PWDs are struggling with physical/structural and communication barriers at the vaccine centres. For instance, lack of ramps for persons on wheel chairs and absence of sign language interpreters for the deaf. Specifically, National Primary Health Centre in Area 11 and NCDC office are not accessible for PWDs as at when the study was conducted.
He said there is need for government to properly mainstream disability needs/concerns on information, education and communication about PWDs rights and access to COVID-19 vaccine as well as its safety and efficacy. Adding that the needs of persons with disabilities are as important as the needs of the persons without disabilities majority, including the need for access to social and health care services. “Experts said that Nigeria will not recover from COVID-19 pandemic if there is inequity in the distribution of the vaccines across all the States (Afro-WHO, 2021)
“Nigeria has received around 8 million doses (AstraZeneca: 3.92 million, Moderna: 4 million,
Johnson & Johnson: 117,600) of the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped through the COVAX Facility.
The arrival marked a historic step towards the goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the world (AFRO-WHO, 2021), but the methods for the distribution of these vaccines in Nigeria may further expand the scope of the existing inequality and health equity gaps in Nigeria, in particular, for persons with disabilities (PWDs)”.
“The World Health Organization (WHO, 2011) report shows that there are over 25 million persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
Approximately 3.6 million of them having very significant difficulties in functioning with more than five hundred thousand of them in Abuja FCT, government effort to reduce the community spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Abuja FCT will not be completed if PWDs critical needs towards accessing COVID-19 vaccine on an equal basis with others are not given deserved policy attention.
And called on policy makers, health managers, administrators, and field health workers to promote access to COVID-19 vaccine administration for Persons with Disabilities in Abuja FCT, Nigeria.