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Depression to healthcare: People with disabilities suffer in lockdown

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Srinagar: Rafia (name changed), 15, who is visually impaired, has become more reclusive since the lockdown began.

A Class IX student at school for specially-abled at Solina, Srinagar, she often asks her mother why she too cannot get access to online classes like her cousin.

 

“The education for disabled people has gone for a toss. There are no provisions for them. My daughter is also not able to understand the concepts of social distancing and self-isolation clearly. Her frequent queries are why we are asked to stay home when there are no hartals,” Rafia’s mother said.

Similarly, Rafiq Ahmad (name changed), who is disabled from the waist down due to a spinal cord injury, was suffering from bedsores when the lockdown was announced. For days, he could not be shifted to the hospital. It was after some local help that he was shifted or nearby primary health center last week.

“I have been told by my doctor to take physiotherapy sessions every day, failing which my legs would become numb. However, due to the lockdown, I cannot go there,” he said.

Given his health conditions, his mother too cannot leave him to get a curfew pass from the DC office.

“I cannot go as public transport is off the roads. Somehow, I managed to get help from a local health center,” she said.

Since the lockdown was announced, people with disabilities have been facing an array of problems. While some are finding it difficult to manage the day-to-day chores, others are struggling to get the basic groceries from the store without any money.

Chairman Humanity Welfare Organization, Javaid Ahmad Tak said persons with disabilities (PWDs) are suffering immensely due to the lockdown.

“Many of them are wheelchair-bound and they have high support needs like urinary catheters and diapers. A lot of people with mental disabilities are reporting a change in behavior as they don’t have access to medicines. The same goes for people who are dependent on epileptic drugs,” he said.

Tak urged the authorities to take immediate steps to address the problems of PWDs and issue passes to the caregivers of persons with disabilities on a priority basis.

“The information about Covid-19 should be made accessible — through audiotapes, Braille, video-graphics with subtitles, and sign language interpretation,” he said.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole acknowledged that PWDs are facing a lot of difficulties in the wake of lockdown.

“The medicines are being made readily available but there are issues of mobility which we are aware of. We have taken cognizance of the matter and will try to address their problems soon,” he said.

Pole noted the e-passes can also be acquired by filling an application form on WhatsApp.