42.5% of Indians with disabilities had difficulty to access routine medical care during lockdown 

December 8, 2020 0 By FM

Two out of every five people with disability (42.5%) reported that lockdown had made it difficult for them to access routine medical care, found a recent survey conducted by CBM India, a leading organisation in disability-inclusive development, in collaboration with IIPH Hyderabad and Humanity & Inclusion.

The pandemic had impacted the health/ mental health & rehabilitation, education, livelihood and social participation of persons with disabilities. The study saw that 81% of citizens with disabilities reported experiencing high levels of stress and 28% reported postponing their scheduled medical appointments because of the lockdown.
Among those with a pre-existing medical condition (12.7%), 58% stated facing difficulty in accessing routine medical care. Therefore, persons with disabilities and pre-existing medical problems suffered significantly more.Isolation, abandonment, and violence were other worrying psycho-social problems reported, showing the lack of empathy during the difficult times. Among the 34.5% who stated that they needed information on mental health issues, only 25.9% had access to such services.

Only 20% were able to get regular mental health counselling or therapy related services during the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown, and 11.4% faced problems getting their regular psychiatric medicines. 58.2% were unhappy that the therapy sessions for their child with disability has ceased during the lockdown. 84.2% stated that their daily lives had been impacted. The lack of mobility both in rural and urban areas led to distress.

The study was conducted to understand the level of disruption on the living conditions of persons with disability due to Covid-19 & related restrictions, and to generate evidence to be prepared for future pandemics or emergencies.

The study consisted of 60% male and 40% female. The respondents had different impairments with the following stats- 51.6% with physical impairment, 16.1% with visual impairment, 19% with intellectual impairment, and 9.2% with speech and hearing impairment.

The study was conducted across 14 states in India- Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Maharashtra. The cross-sectional survey was repeated for a 2nd time, 6 weeks after the first interview on a randomly identified 25% subsample to discern any change in trends over this period.

“Lockdown had a negative psychological impact on these differently-abled and one of the most common reasons stated was economic difficulties. Many faced difficulties in even accessing basic necessities. Incomes were compromised and even withdrawing their money from their bank accounts was a challenge. Another major concern that was raised was the needs of persons with a disability was not taken into consideration while developing the guidelines on Covid-19 response.” averred Dr Sara Varughese, Managing Trustee, CBM India.