GEORGETOWN, Guyana, March 24, 2020 (CMC) – The Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) Special Rapporteur on Disability, Dr. Floyd Morris, is calling on regional governments to ensure that special measures are put in place, to protect persons with disabilities against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The CARICOM Special Rapporteur on Disability was appointed in October 2018, and has the responsibility for promoting a more inclusive and participatory society for persons with disabilities, across the region.
“It is incumbent for governments, within the region, to ensure that persons with disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable group in Caribbean societies, be included, and given special protection and support, in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Persons with disabilities are particularly vulnerable, because a large segment of this population is poor and, therefore, less able to make adjustments to their circumstances and daily routine, to help prevent contracting this highly-contagious and deadly virus,” he added.
Dr. Morris said that persons with disabilities often suffer from chronic medical conditions, which make the virus especially dangerous, since they are less able to afford medical care, should they need it.
He said, based on this existential situation, regional governments should “ensure that in offering support to their citizens, due consideration and support be given to the most vulnerable, inclusive of persons with disabilities”.
“We are living in abnormal times, and this is where our true character, as a region, will be revealed,” he said; adding, “this will be best demonstrated in our actions, to protect and care for persons with disabilities, in these moments.”
The CARICOM Special Rapporteur on Disability is also imploring governments to ensure that persons with disabilities be included in national and regional communications strategies, in order to ensure that the response to the pandemic, properly and strategically caters to unique circumstances.
“Special attention must be given to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the communication strategies for COVID-19. In particular, sign language must be provided at all press conferences so that persons who are deaf can access vital information on this global pandemic.”
The CARICOM Rapporteur also called for “special attention to be given to persons with intellectual disabilities”, recommending “easy-to-read materials be provided for these individuals”.
“One of the most significant arsenals in the fight against this disease, is credible information, and we must ensure that all persons with disabilities, including the deaf and persons with intellectual disabilities, have access to consistent and reliable information,” Dr. Morris implored.