Funke Busari, Lagos
The Nigeria Association of the Blind, NAB, Lagos State Chapter, has called on the State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to give priority access to Persons With Disabilities, PWDs, in the on-going COVID-19 vaccination process.
According to Barrister Lukman Abolarinwa Salami, Chairman of NAB in Lagos, he expressed concern that the disabled persons stand a greater risk because they form a critical bulk of the communities as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect more people.
As many states in Nigeria, including Lagos, are already inoculating citizens with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the association therefore advised Mr. Sanwo-Olu to respect Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, CRPD, of which Nigeria is a signatory, and give priority to them.
“Article 11 of the CRPD states that: “States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.”
While Chairman of NAB, Barrister Salami called for the PWDs to be prioritised in disaster and risk management efforts, he reiterated: “In fact, Section 30 of the Lagos Special People’s Law also guarantees every disable persons priority attention in matters of public emergency response.
Public Relations Officer of the association, Mr. Gbenga Ogundare, harped on the fact that not less 500,000 PWDs, including primary and secondary school students live in Lagos, hence “there is palpable worries about reaching those who may face technological or geographic barriers to access the vaccine.”
He expressed further, “Truth is that disabled persons are the most vulnerable when it comes to the pandemic. Those on wheelchairs and crutches lack immunity and mobility.
“The blind cannot maintain social distancing because they need sighted assistance for their everyday activities, and many cannot understand what is going on around them as modes and means of communication are not accessible to them.
“This community therefore deserves to be given a chance to survive the pandemic through priority access to the vaccine,” Mr Ogundare stated.