The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a non-governmental organisation working to educate, support and empower persons with disabilities in Nigeria, has accused the Lagos State government of not making provisions for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in its coronavirus vaccination programme.
The group said its research revealed “so far, no person living with disability in Lagos State has had access to COVID-19 vaccine.”
The report, which is titled; “Assessment of Access to COVID-19 Vaccines among Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Lagos State,” was presented to journalists in Lagos.
According to the report, none of the 100 PWD clusters in the state was involved or engaged in any of the COVID-19 vaccine programmes or activities of the government in the state.
Speaking during the presentation, the group’s executive director, David Anyaele, said the report proves the institutional discrimination against PWDs in accessing COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria’s commercial hub and coronavirus pandemic epicentre.
According to him, their findings showed that socio-economic benefits of using the vaccine certificate for job-related sports and job related activities increased the personal interest of some PWDs in accessing the vaccine, “so they go to any length to get it.”
Mr Anyaele said health policy makers have failed to make specific provisions for PWDs.
“There are no specific policy guidelines for the issues of critical concern of PWDs in most of the COVID-19 vaccine centres in Lagos.
“For instance, PWDs interviewed reported that there were no sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired clusters. Priority was not given to PWDs with hidden disabilities (hearing impaired and Albinos) on a queue and many vaccine centres are not accessible to PWDs on wheelchairs or those using crutches,” he added.
He said one of the reasons for the research was to identify challenges faced by social policy and health stakeholders in ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for PWDs.
Mr Anyaele noted that the major challenge confronting the policymakers as identified by the research was the lack of synergy between Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA) and other relevant healthcare stakeholders in charge of the vaccination programme, especially the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board.
“Majority of the health policymakers interviewed pointed out lack of sufficient knowledge about specific provisions in the disability law, PWDs’ rights and issues of critical concern as a huge challenge,” Mr Anyaele added.
Meanwhile, speaking at the event, a director at the state’s ministry of information, Adesegun Ogundeji, said the state government always prioritises inclusion in its programmes and activities.
Mr Ogundeji, who represented the state’s commissioner for information and strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, said COVID-19 vaccination centres are either located in open spaces accessible by everyone or health facilities where appropriate provisions for PWDs had been in existence even before the vaccination campaign.
He added that the creation of the LASODA and the enactment of the state’s special people’s law of 2011 are enough evidence to prove the state’s commitment to the welfare of PWDs.Follow us on social media