Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Friday assured South Africans that recovery efforts to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic would not exclude women, youth and persons with disabilities.
Nkoana-Mashabane was speaking during a virtual meeting on upholding the rights of persons with disabilities under the overarching theme “Persons with Disabilities and Covid-19 South Africa”.
“The worst impact of the pandemic is certainly felt by the most vulnerable of our people. In this regard, persons with disabilities are more likely to be affected by poverty and experience higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse during these trying times,” she explained.
She said the virus presented a unique opportunity to design and implement more inclusive and accessible societies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
“It is my conviction that when we secure the rights of persons with disabilities, we are investing in our common future,” she said.
She explained that government interventions at policy and legislative levels included the implementation of reasonable accommodation measures for the protection and safety of persons with disabilities during the national state of disaster and for the duration of the lockdown.
Nkoana-Mashabane added that a reporting template is being developed to track the spending of the R500-billion fiscal support package that was announced to fight the effects of the virus.
“The template is meant to track spending in respect of women, youth and persons with disabilities, to various aspects of the fiscal response packages,” she explained.
The training of staff in residential facilities for persons with disabilities has been conducted and persons with disabilities are included in the distribution of food parcels.
This is done through a knock and drop system at their homes and places of residence to mitigate the circumstances that may lead to starvation, led by the Department of Social Development (DSD).
She reiterated the specific days for disbursement of disability grants and care dependency grants for children with disabilities that have been arranged with the DSD.
The Minister went on to commend Autism South Africa for offering counselling services to parents and caregivers.
Parents and caregivers have been provided with the relevant contact details for Autism South Africa through the DSD, Department of Basic Education and GCIS respectively.
On education, she said services and materials for learners who are blind have been made available in collaboration with Blind SA.
The department has also deployed senior officials in the public health containment, economic, legal and social impact work streams to ensure disability inclusion.
These work streams feed into the various National Joint Committees to support the work of the National Corona Command Council.