MISINFORMED

Myths on viruses expose PWDs to Covid-19, says lobby

Says they give people with disabilities a false sense of security leading to them letting their guards down.

In Summary

• Official says many PWDs, especially those who were infected with polio, think they have developed immunity to all viruses.

• She says the visually impaired more exposed as they need to touch surfaces to find their way around. 

CAPWD CEO Hamisa Zaja hands food aid to Patrick Shukurani at Hodi Hodi village in Shanzu ward, Kisauni constituency on Sunday.
DO NOT LET YOUR GUARD DOWN CAPWD CEO Hamisa Zaja hands food aid to Patrick Shukurani at Hodi Hodi village in Shanzu ward, Kisauni constituency on Sunday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Myths about viruses are exposing persons living with disability to the Covid-19, an organisation has warned.  

Coast Association for Persons Living with Disability on Sunday said there are myths that give PWDs a false sense of security and as a result, let their guard down.

“There are myths that if you have been affected by any virus, like I had the poliovirus, then you cannot be infected with any other virus,” CEO Hamisa Zaja said.

 

She said most PWDs, especially in rural areas, believe that once one is infected with one virus, they become resistant to any other virus.

The CEO spoke at Hodi Hodi village in Shanzu ward, Kisauni constituency where she donated food and other items to about 60 families for the second time.

The village is mostly inhabited by PWDs, especially the visually impaired.

The villagers said they have been forgotten by the national and the county governments and the political leaders.

Emmy Kadogo, a visually impaired woman, said the politicians always come to them for votes but once they make it to their seats, they forget about them.

“We have been suffering because when we hear there is food being distributed somewhere, we struggle to get there and in most cases we miss the food,” Kadogo said.  

She said most of them have given up and now live one day at a time. “We no longer even hope for aid. We take risks and venture out to at least find food for our children. The virus can forgive us for now.”

 

Zaja said many PWDs, especially those who were infected with polio, think they have developed immunity to all viruses.

“I have had to take time to explain that that’s not the case. It means there is a lot of sensitisation that needs to be done,” Zaja said.

Some, she said, do not bother wearing face masks or sanitising their hands because they feel they are safe and would rather use the little money they have to buy food instead.

The Coast region has about 8,000 PWDs according to CAPWD.

The organisation has reached out to about 3,000 of them, distributing food, face masks and sanitiser.

Zaja said it is telling that there are more female PWDs than males.

The physically challenged, Zaja said, are the majority, followed by the blind then those who can neither hear nor speak. 

Zaja said the PWDs have been crying for help, but none has been forthcoming.

“That is why we have decided to help ourselves. Those who can run around can do so and help their fellow PWDs.”

The CEO said most government programmes intended for PWDs do not reach them.

She said most PWDS, especially the visually impaired, cannot effectively keep social distance because the majority of them have to walk with guides.

“They also have to fidget when walking thus they touch surfaces that might be contaminated. That is why it is important that the visually impaired persons are given sanitiser.”

She said most PWDs are exposing themselves to the virus when looking for vital items like food, face masks and sanitiser.  

 “Majority of PWDs are not employed. They live from hand-to-mouth. They have to go out and look for food. So, these restrictions are a double tragedy for PWDs,” the lobby boss said.

Edited by R.Wamochie