Intellectual Disability Awareness Month: The Impact Of COVID-19 On Persons With Intellectual Disability

SAFMH News Room

March commemorates Intellectual Disability Awareness Month (IDAM). For 2021 the South Africa Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) will be highlighting “See me, hear me, include me: The impact of COVID-19 on persons with intellectual disability.”

SAFMH aims to highlight the effects of the global pandemic on persons with intellectual disabilities (ID). This IDAM, SAFMH aims to raise awareness about the ways in which COVID-19 has affected persons with intellectual disabilities. This includes barriers to services, access and information, and how such barriers impede on the rights of persons with ID.

In South Africa it is estimated that four in every 100 people are affected by some form or level of ID. Persons with ID often require assistance with day-to-day tasks, which can make preventative measures for COVID-19 hard to adhere to, largely because persons with ID often require face-to-face care, making social distancing difficult. Persons with ID may also rely on their caretakers to keep them safe due to a lack of access to information appropriate to the developmental level of the person with ID.

It is also important to consider the human rights of persons with ID. This includes the right to life, health and access to information as outlined in The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It is thus important to disseminate life-saving information to all people. This means creating content that is suitable for persons with ID, such as Easy-to-Read, which is an internationally recognised standard of communication that makes use of pictures, photos, symbols and simple texts to communicate. Ensuring information accessibility allows all people to make decisions about their lives, health and take necessary precautions to protect themselves.

SAFMH urges government, healthcare workers, communities, people caring for persons with ID, and the country at large to advocate for and support persons with ID during the global pandemic. This includes ensuring that persons with ID receive adequate healthcare and information, suitable to their developmental level. We call on the South African Government in particular to ensure that information is formatted into Easy-to-Read formats so that everyone has access to it. In addition, we request from government to ensure that persons with ID are not falling through the cracks in terms of adequate healthcare and care-taking facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together we can save as many lives as possible – particularly those from vulnerable communities.

For enquires, please contact:

NAME: Nadine Dirks (Project Leader: Information & Awareness)

EMAIL: nadine@SAFMH.org

CELL: 079 799 6533

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