Dr Emmanuel Sackey, a lecturer at the Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and technology (KNUST), has called on government to set up an emergency relief fund for Persons with Disability (PWD’s) to meet their needs in crisis time.
He said such fund, would provide emergency financial aid or grants to PWD’s across the country during periods of crisis such as in the COVID-19 pandemic, to enable them acquire basic necessities.
Dr Sackey made the call when he presented the baseline survey report on “Mitigating the Psychosocial Impact of COVID-19 on Persons with Disabilities”, on Tuesday, in Accra.
He said the report was based on the outcome of a study involving 110 participants with disability, and conducted in December 2020, in three districts namely Koforidua, Sekondi-Takoradi, and Kumasi Metropolis.
The study was to obtain empirical data to facilitate the monitoring and evaluation of the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled (GSPD) and Ghana Somubi Dwumadie sponsored project on the mitigation of the psychosocial distress induced by the COVID-19 pandemic among PWD’s.
Dr Sackey said the key outcomes of the report indicates that all participants admitted that COVID-19 pandemic had various socio-economic effect on them.
“Five categories of Socio-economic effects were identified, including reduction in income, restriction from work, from participating in sports or recreational activities and from going to church and inability to visit family and friends,” he noted.
He said 51 percent of participants had basic education, while 72 percent were employed, and out of that, 78 percent were self-employed in the informal sector.
Dr Sackey noted that, majority of the participants identified reduced income and restriction from work as the most severe socio-economic effect of COVID-19, on them, while identifying stress over the present situation, fear of the present situation and anxiety or fear of the future of the pandemic as the factors of Psychosocial distress.
He however noted that none of the participants were aware of any government intervention aimed at mitigating the mental health implications of the pandemic among PWD’s, but most respondents cited the inclusion of PWD’s in the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business support Scheme (CAPBuss)aimed at mitigating the impact of the pandemic on PWD’s, most of the respondents cited.”
Dr Sackey said in the case of the training needs assessment to facilitate the design of a capacity building on peer experience in counselling, 84 percent of participants admitted having no prior training nor experience in counselling.
Some of the recommendations made by the study include the necessity to factor the outcome of the training need assessment in the design of the capacity building in peer counselling for the three local associations of PWD’s, and to widen the CAPBuSS to cover more PWD’s, in order to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
“Inclusion of persons with mental health condition in capacity building in peer counselling, ensuring that after that, beneficiaries use the meetings of local associations to undertake the proposed voluntary counselling for the target population and engagement of the NMHA to include programmes that could mitigate the psychosocial distress from the pandemic on PWD’s,” he said.
Rev. John Mefful, President GSPD, said the meeting was to discuss the report on the psychosocial impact of the pandemic among PWD’s, propose strategies to address the psychosocial distress for PWD’s on COVID-19 and deliberate and develop strategies to address the psychosocial impact among PWD’s to be considered in the Ghana Mental Health Authority programmes.
He said the survey was done by GSPD with support from Ghana Somubie Dwumedie with the aim of strengthening the resilience of PWD’s to cope with the psychosocial distress induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.