Physically disabled apprehensive over State’s attention on Covid-19

Friday, April 24th, 2020 00:00 |
Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) CEO Benson Kiptum. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

Over 2,000 persons with disability could be suffering silently as all the attention by government and partners is focused on coronavirus, and the number is growing on daily, Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) has said.

This, according to APDK, could be a double impact on a population that is already fragile, so vulnerable and requiring close attention.

Between January  and last month, only 2, 912 have sought services at the APDK facilities, about 2, 227 short of the number of persons with disability (PWDs) who APDK attended to in the same period last year.

 Acting Chief Executive Officer, APDK, Benson Kiptum yesterday expressed concern that the number of clients who sought services at the organisation’s facilities before the advent of the disease had declined considerably.

 “When Covid-19 was not there, we used to receive a high number of clients per day. In Nairobi alone, we used to attend to between 30-50 clients daily, majority coming for assessment; fitting, while others came for repairs of the assistive devices and follow-up, but this number has gone down to around 10-15 clients per day,” he said attributing the situation to multiple challenges facing the community of PWDs.

He said challenges in the transport sector due to the advent of Covid-19 had paralysed movement of PWDs; their caregivers including organisations such as APDK that conducted outreach programmes.

This, Kiptum said, had resulted in a growing group of silent PWDs across the country who require support for essential services such as therapy; assistive devices and psychosocial services.

“In January to March 2019, we attended to 5, 139 clients being walk-in wall-out clients. This means that we were seeing between 30-40 clients per day. 

“This year however, we have only been able to attend to between 10-15 clients per day, and this is besides the outreach programmes,” he told People Daily at the non-governmental organisation’s offices in Westlands, Nairobi.

The organisation was forced to reopen after a week of closure of services – to attend to concerns and anxiety from the community of PWDs - following the rising momentum of Covid-19 which resulted in anxiety among its employees. 

However, after realising that many of their clients were suffering, the organisation had resume services but remotely giving priority to the essential ones.

“We closed for one week because of the momentum of Covid-19, but when we opened in the first day, 15 clients came in, and today we receive 45 per day.

This number keeps on increasing with Mombasa alone recording 10-20 clients a day. This, therefore, tells us that this community is dire need of attention,” Kiptum said.

He has urged the government that while, it puts up and implements the social distancing directives, it should ensure that the silent community members are not ignored.

“We don’t work in the community because of social distancing, but we offer services in the facilities, to ensure that this community is provided with assistive devices that comprise of wheelchairs; crutches, callipers and attend to PWDs who come for repairs of their devices,” he added.

Kiptum noted that lack of these services to the community renders them immobile even when they want to seek for medical assistance it becomes a bit of challenge.

He also raised the issue of inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for the organisation’s healthcare work force especially rehabilitation officers, who are currently working to provide essential services.

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