Creating a world where everyone has equal access to basic amenities is an uphill challenge. From governmental and institutional apathy to societal judgement, people with disabilities have to struggle harder than most people, and are often left behind. In this global pandemic, it has worsened.
Sightsavers, with its India headquarters in Delhi that works for people with disabilities, has launched a campaign to convince the government to take a disabled-friendly approach for vaccination to reach out to every person in India.
Speaking to The Morning Standard, RN Mohanty, CEO, Sightsavers, notes, “People with disabilities are also a vulnerable group and may pose a higher risk of getting infected. To maintain vaccine equity, we have to understand factors such as a higher rate of co-morbidities, dependency at times on caregivers for certain sections of disabled populations, and accessibility challenges for registration in the portal and for vaccination, among others.”
According to statistics, there are 2.68 cr people with disabilities in India. The significant section is a total of 2.21 per cent of India’s total population as per census 2011. “You can simply multiply the challenges faced by a person with a disability who is reeling under abject poverty, barely has had any education, is facing gender and caste bias, and living in a rural setting,” explains Mohanty.
The campaign has reeled in actor Kabir Bedi as the honorary brand ambassador, to spread the message through a series of videos and social media posts. The sheer logistical nightmare that a disabled person has to deal with in such a scenario, where everyone is rushing out to access a limited number of vaccines is compounded for those with disabilities, even if they are fortunate enough to live in the nation’s Capital or any other major urban centre.
Mohanty concludes, “Sightsavers’ Equal World Vaccine Equity campaign seeks to support local governments in creating enabling environments for Covid-19 vaccination. Our aim is to make people with disabilities aware of vaccination benefits, so that there is no hesitancy on its uptake.”