People with Disability Solomon Islands (PWDSI) are calling on government to also recognize the needs of people with disability at this time of emergency.

PWDSI raised this concern saying there are a lot of people with disability and those who are mentally ill roaming the streets of Honiara now.

PWDSI said these people should be taken into special care. And this is not an unfounded fear. While many are taken care of by family members, in times of crises or emergency they will need assistance with everyday tasks, including making food and getting dressed.

Office Manager for PWDSI Davis Luabolana Ladofo’oa said government should consider these people as high risk and should ensure their safety during this COVID-19 pandemic.

“The approach we need to look at now is how we can reach this people by going down to their level so that they can understand the message.

“Unlike those with disabilities, the mentally ill must be approached with caution and needs special care during this State of Emergency," he said.

Vice President for Blind and Visually Impairment Solomon Islands, Desmond Suiga says government should work on the mental facilities as well so the mentally ill people can have the care they need.

“We cannot continue to ignore them, especially as we fight against COVID-19,” Suiga said.

The 2009 Solomon Islands National Population and Housing Census reports that 14% of the total population or 72,222 people – live with disability.

This census figure is near the global prevalence rate of 15%, which would suggest that a total of 77,381 Solomon Islanders live with disability. Such chronic health conditions could make the symptoms of COVID-19 more severe or deadly.

Even in normal times, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses confront biases in medical care or often struggle to get access to government benefits. But amid a global pandemic, such challenges are heightened—and so far, there are no specific measures or government assistance targeting those with disability.

PWDSI wishes that government authorities to also consider this group of people as the country continues in its fight against the coronavirus.