Savana Signatures, a non-governmental organisation, is urging government to step up its adherence to the World Health Organisation’s guidelines to protect the vulnerable in the country against the novel coronavirus.
It wants government to fully follow the WHO covid-19 protocols put in place to ensure people with disabilities and the aged who are at greater risk of contracting the virus are protected.
People with disabilities, especially children, it said, are most often ignored in terms of development initiatives that will promote their wellbeing and this makes them vulnerable to health-related issues thus resulting in health complications.
The organisation said although Ghana has lived up to expectation as all press briefings at the Ministry of Information and the Presidency have sign language interpretation, not all the WHO prescribed guidelines are adhered to by the government and stakeholders.
“We, therefore, bring to the attention of government and other stakeholders, the WHO preventive protocols for the most vulnerable in society and urge them to implement the protocols to help them live normal lives,” Savana Signatures said in its statement Friday.
It said government and stakeholders per WHO guidelines must ensure that public health information and communication is accessible to the vulnerable.
To this end, it said the information must include captioning and, where possible, sign language for all live and recorded events and communications. This includes national addresses, press briefings, and live social media.
They are also to convert public materials into an “Easy Read” format so that they are accessible for people with intellectual disability or cognitive impairment.
“Develop accessible written information products by using appropriate document formats, (such as “Word”), with structured headings, large print, braille versions and formats for people who are deaf blind,” it added.
Again, they must include captions for images used within documents or on social media, use images that are inclusive and do not stigmatize disability, and work with disability organizations, including advocacy bodies and disability service providers to disseminate public health information.
“Those with functional problems like hearing and seeing will principally face challenges in understanding public health information on the virus if stakeholders in health communication neglect the information needs of the vulnerable in society,” the group said.
Savana Signatures observed that coronavirus (Covid-19) is posing a serious challenge to all aspects of human life.
“Almost every facet of social life has been interrupted and the likelihood that most vulnerable in society will suffer the greatest is high,” it stated.
It noted that children with disabilities are at risk of getting infected with the COVID-19 and may develop other illnesses as a result of that.