THE Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) and the Health Ministry (MOH) are currently working hard to ensure 80% of the people in Malaysia are vaccinated against Covid-19 to achieve herd immunity and a return to normalcy.
The National Council for the Blind Malaysia (NCBM) would like to thank the government for prioritising persons with disabilities in the second phase of the vaccination plan, which will commence on April 19, as announced. However, NCBM is concerned about the access that 592,878 persons with disabilities in Malaysia have to the immunisation programme.
In conjunction with World Health Day tomorrow, we call on the government of Malaysia to fulfil the action programme of the Asean Economic Community’s point 17 and Asean SocioCultural Community’s point six as outlined in the Asean Enabling Masterplan 2025 (available at bit.ly/asean_
enable), which reiterates the provision of quality and accessible healthcare. The government can begin to do so by adopting the following measures:
> Simplify the process for vaccination registration and reception among persons with disabilities.
> Ensure vaccination centres are accessible for persons with disabilities, including by providing appropriate equipment, facilities and services such as ramps, accessible parking space, accessible information, and Malaysian sign language interpreters.
> Ensure vaccinators and other related staff are trained to interact with and support persons with disabilities.
> Ensure all vaccine-related information, including their side effects and the rate of probabilities of having side effects, is publicly accessible for persons with disabilities in various formats, including the provision of an accessible website and easy-read version for people with intellectual disabilities.
> Include parents, carers and care workers who are the primary care providers for persons with disabilities as part of the priority group in the second phase of the immunisation plan as these groups closely and frequently interact with persons with disabilities.
We strongly urge Mosti and the MOH to work closely with the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry, state departments and district social welfare offices as well as organisations of and for persons with disabilities in implementing these measures.
The government must include persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in policy and decision-making processes so policies and laws reflect the needs and situations of all citizens, including persons with disabilities. This is one of the important facets in mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities, as enshrined in the Asean Enabling Masterplan 2025. These very crucial steps are needed to “Build a fairer, healthier world” as advocated by the World Health Organisation’s theme for this year’s World Health Day campaign.
The adoption of a whole of government approach and collaboration with marginalised communities will ensure the success and inclusivity of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme and develop a better health system for all.
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND MALAYSIA (NCBM)