Anambra: Physically challenged bemoan exclusion from COVID-19 committee, unfriendly isolation centres


The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Anambra State chapter has appealed to the state governor, Willie Obiano to include its members in the COVID-19 committee as well as make the state protective centres (isolation centres) disability friendly.

JONAPWD, umbrella body of all clusters of Disabled People’s Organization (DPOs), in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Mr Ifeanyi Igwegbe, said they were disturbed that not all the protective care centres were accessible to them.

Obiano, had in a broadcast announced that the state provided facilities for coronavirus patients at Protective Care centre at Onitsha General Hospital, NYSC Orientation camp, Mbaukwu-Umuawulu in Awka South LGA, COOUTH Amaku-Awka, and what he termed surge centres at Ekwuluobia General Hospital in Aguata LGA and Umueri General Hospital in Anambra East LGA.

As a result, JONAPWD, sponsored by Rule of Law and Anti Corruption (RoLAC), visited the three protective and two surge centres to ascertain if they were in total compliance with the Anambra State Disabilities Rights Law 2018 which provides under section 23 sub section one that a person living with disability shall have the right and necessary facilities to access public buildings and public places. 
The Association, however, revealed that while facilities at Onistha general hospital was constructed to a good standard with a provision of ramp and rails for easy access for the blind and persons using wheelchairs and clutches, adjustible chairs and disability friendly toilet, that sited at the NYSC Orientation camp Mbaukwu, was not accessible due to its unfriendly entrance.

“At COOUTH Awka, nobody was interested to show us the facility. We are glad in what we saw at Umueri protective surge centre where a hospital attendant assured us that it would be disability friendly once completed. The story was similar at Ekwuluobia General Hospital’s  protective surge centre where we discovered that serious work is in progress with some significant signs of disability inclusive plan to make the centre accessible. We were told that all the management of the centres are in close contacts with the Office of the Governor on disability matters for making available the sign language interpreters any time their services are needed,” they added.

The association, however, expressed worry over none inclusion of any of their  members in the state COVID 19 Action Committee, and implored the state government to ensure that the proposed testing centres, protective and surge centres were disability friendly in all ramifications, and to provide more palliatives to them, and to setup disabilities intervention subcommittee on COVID 19 and training of the front line interveners on covid -19 on disability ettiquetts.

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