The COVID-19 outbreak has led to the unprecedented global crisis that has impacted the life and work of the general population in nearly all parts of the world. Persons with disabilities have been affected disproportionately by the pandemic crisis itself and also by many other compounded factors. The disruption of essential services and support, pre-existing health conditions in some cases have left persons with disabilities at higher risk of developing serious health conditions. Furthermore, persons with disabilities have often been excluded from health information and mainstream health provision, limited accessibility, including to goods and services. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed these underlying inequalities and exacerbate risk situations.
For persons with disabilities, everyday barriers such as physical accessibility, barriers to implementing basic hygiene measures, affordability of healthcare, limitations on health insurance, and discriminatory laws and stigma, can be life threatening in the midst of a pandemic. Organizations of persons with disabilities and coalitions of health, emergency management, and other experts have been making urgent calls in this regard. Member States, in partnership with community stakeholders, have been taking actions for COVID-19 crisis response and recovery, aimed at ensuring equal rights of persons with disabilities in line with the CRPD and the 2030 Agenda, and addressing their specific needs to maintain their health, safety, dignity, and independence in the community.
Furthermore, with the closure of educational institutes, young persons with disabilities have been particularly hit hard. Online education has made it more challenging due to inaccessible digital content and interfaces. Due to physical distancing measures, assistance in daily activities has decreased, leading to confinement to their homes, isolation and loneliness which in turn affects mental wellbeing of these young people.
In this context, this Global Forum on “COVID-19 crisis and persons with disabilities: Building back better towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world for all” is co-organized, under the auspicious of Ecuador, Hungary, Liberia and Singapore and with the support from UNDESA, to address some pertinent issues of the COVID-19 that has put to the test health systems all over the world. Keynote speakers and panelists of the Forum will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of persons with disabilities and impacted their life. Panelists will share good practices and experiences in the 4 overarching areas of action specified above, focusing on actions to “build back better” societies- emerging from the pandemic crisis that shall be stronger and more inclusive, accessible and sustainable for all persons with disabilities.
The Global Forum will take place online on 3 August from 10am to 11:30 (EDT New York).
Statements and Presentations
- Opening statement by H.E Luis Gallegos, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador
- Statement by Ms. Maria Soledad Cisternas, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility
- Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. Permanent Representative of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations
- Intervention by Ms. Phyllis Choo, director of Planning, SG Enable, Singapore
- Intervention of Ms Maria Gomes Do Valle Ribeiro UN Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe
- The World Bank’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic by Ms. Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, Global Disability Advisor, World Bank Group
- Building back better towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world for all by Ms. Marcie Roth, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of World Disability Institute
- Presentation by Mr. Axel Leblois, President and Executive Director of G3ICT
- Presentation by Mr. Kartik Sawhney, Co-Founder at I-Stem, AI scientist at Microsoft, and UN SDG Young Leader 2018
- Closing by H.E. Ambassador Helena Yánez Loza , Ecuador