The fate of a child with disability during the COVID-19 era

COVID-19 has been disruptive to all families, but the effects of transport disruptions, school closures, and social distancing are further amplified for families of children with disabilities.
These disruptions have immensely affected children with disabilities access to medical rehabilitation facilities for review therapies, surgeries, medication, assistive devices and psychosocial support. As rehabilitation for children with disabilities is long-term and a gradual process, reluctance, failure to continuously attend reviews may result into permanent deformities that affect a child’s functionality and participation.
According to the UNESCO website; Children with disabilities may have underlying health conditions that increase their risk of serious complications from COVID-19. In addition, with regular operations of schools and businesses coming to a halt, the inaccessibility to therapy and support for these children may exert effects that are long lasting and significant. As such, it becomes equally important to take care of their physical as well as mental health.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic Katalemwa had registered 3 fatalities from disability underlying conditions however from the recent home-based care visits conducted, we have registered an increment in fatalities because these children lacked rehabilitation services and essential drugs like anti-epileptic drugs due to the recent lock down situation that the country was in.
As the family income levels have been shrinking due to the prolonged COVID-19 lock down, children with disabilities that require nutritional support have felt the pinch. Some families have one meal in a day therefore these children with disabilities suffer from nutritional deficiencies and this has greatly affected their healing process.
Social distancing for most of the children with disabilities is a myth as they require closer care like feeding, toileting, cleaning, hence are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 from their caretakers. We recommend that caregivers take extra precautions while dealing with them like wearing Masks/face shields, gloves and avoid contact with persons outside the family.
Katalemwa Cheshire home is committed to provide assistance to children with disabilities in the community and at the Centre through provision of some personal protective gear, relief items to families that have been hit hard with the Pandemic and psychosocial support from all our platforms.
We argue parents to identify nearby Health centers/hospital in their communities where they can access drugs for their children and therapies as well as keep in constant contact with their KCH therapist to provide necessary support and guidance.
KCH encourages parents/caregivers to continue providing psychosocial support to children with disabilities and therapeutic treatment like exercises/stretches because their children may develop irreversible deformities.
With joint efforts, we shall fight the COVID-19 Pandemic