South Africa

Measures in place to help people with disabilities amid Covid-19 pandemic, says Nkoana-Mashabane

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says specific measures are in place to consider the universal design and reasonable accommodation on screening, testing and quarantine sites to be accessible to the disabled.

She was speaking during a webinar hosted by the department on Friday, which focused on upholding the rights of persons with disabilities under the theme “Persons with disabilities and Covid-19 South Africa”.

Small Business Development Deputy Minister Rosemary Capa also attended the webinar where she unpacked economic interventions for persons with disabilities during the lockdown period and beyond.

Nkoana-Mashabane said a reporting template was being developed to track the spending of the R500 billion fiscal support packages for women, youth and persons with disabilities.

“Some of these measures included in the regulations of the Disaster Management Act, alert levels were done, following wide consultations with the disability sector. The clarion call of persons with disabilities is ‘nothing about us without us’, and as government, we take that very seriously.

“I have informed my colleagues in the departments of social development, health and basic education, on all issues raised in the letters you sent to the department and how these impact you in your private and public spaces during the lockdown period.”

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Nkoana-Mashabane said other measures in place to accommodate people with disabilities during the period of the pandemic were also the training of staff in residential facilities for persons with disabilities and their inclusion in the distribution of food parcels.

“This is done through a knock-and-drop system at their homes and places of residence to mitigate the circumstances that may lead to starvation, and the Department of Social Development has led these processes effectively and efficiently.”

She added the Department of Basic Education had also made resource materials available to support pupils with autism, saying Autism South Africa offered counselling services to parents and caregivers.

Her deputy, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, said a lifetime opportunity for the sustainable inclusion of Persons with Disability Rights Programme was beginning to emerge within the district development model.

“We have an opportunity to mainstream disability issues and also to monitor through accurate aggregated data progress on different aspects of a person’s life.”

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