The Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) Secretariat has started its 2nd activation response to the COVID-19 pandemic. PDF has set up teams to work closely and remotely with their national members and regional partners to track the impact of this pandemic on persons with disabilities in Fiji and the region. And also to track the inclusiveness and accessibility of COVID 19 information shared through official government sources.
This action by PDF follows the 2nd wave of COVID-19 community transmission in Suva, Fiji where the Secretariat is situated. Speaking on the steps taken, Chief Executive Officer Mr. Setareki Macanawai reveals that the staff have taken a proactive stand and are working from their individual places of residence where they have been assigned to different member countries right around the region and will follow up with Organisations of Persons with Disabilities in country.
The Secretariat has also undertaken media monitoring of the countries such as PNG, Vanuatu, Fiji to name a few, to see whether national Governments have included persons with disabilities in their daily broadcasts and measures to COVID 19.
“Persons with disabilities face far greater rick, impact and disproportionate effect due to COVID-19. The global pandemic poses greater risk of exposure and the possibility of suffering serious health effects due to a range of factors, which may include an inability to practice basic preventative measures, a lack of access to information, pre-existing health conditions and other vulnerabilities.”
PDF is working closely with regional partners to ensure that all information going out to members of the public with regards to COVID-19 and its preventative measures is inclusive of and are accessible for persons with disabilities.
This means the inclusion of sign language interpreters, captioning, use of simple words as well as pictures to convey the message. These are some of the simple steps which can be implemented to ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded or left behind.
The Pacific Disability Forum is also calling on all agencies and Governments to work closely with Organisations of Persons with Disabilities in country to ensure that persons with disabilities are at the table and their concerns and aspirations are included in any decision making, planning and community intervention.