The challenge of an inclusive government response to COVID-19: Snapshot from the Philippines

inclusive government response to COVID-19

Advocating to governments to improve their policies and programs so they are more disability inclusive, CBM Australia works hard to ensure that wherever people living with disabilities are, they are not left behind. Erly, CBM programme manager in the Philippines, highlights the precarious position of people living with disabilities during the pandemic, and the critical need for CBM responses to address needs. “The sector of people with disabilities is badly overlooked in these difficult times. Disability specific needs are not appropriately addressed due to the generic interventions of both government and private sectors.” Erly illustrates with an example, “For instance, when public transport was suspended, a poor person with physical disability walked for three hours to see their doctor. Food and medicines are hard to come by which is having an impact on health. Some personal protective equipment is not suitable especially to those with cerebral palsy and other impairments. Those people who rely on medication for mental illness are vulnerable especially when supply runs low. People with disabilities and older people are most at-risk during this pandemic.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has echoed similar concerns, noting that government responses need to better address the needs of people with disabilities and take action to ensure that people with disabilities are adequately represented in government responses. People with disabilities must not face discrimination, nor be overlooked in relief measures. With estimates that up to 1 billion people are currently living with disabilities, the challenge for governments is to build an inclusive framework to respond and protect the needs and rights of people living with disabilities.

Without accounting for the physical and financial needs of people with disabilities, the challenges people face can easily escalate. Working alongside our partners in the Disability Movement, here is where CBM can help.