See full statement from the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities
The Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD) conducted a survey of fifteen hundred (1500) Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the quality of life for PWDs.
The survey was conducted from November 1 to December 4 2021. The findings of the study revealed a significant decline in the quality of life of PWDs in Guyana. It was found that 75% of respondents had limited access to healthcare due to the pandemic, while 47.5% were completely unable to access health services during the lockdown.
In addition, the majority of respondents were of the view that their disabilities resulted in a greater chance of them contracting coronavirus.
Another key finding of the study was that the pandemic greatly reduced the independence of respondents. The majority indicated that both their mobility and financial independence had diminished, which in turn resulted in a notable sense of disempowerment.
This is especially important given that most respondents considered themselves to be relatively independent prior to the pandemic with support from relatives, friends, and benevolent members of society.
In the area of education, the PWDs that were enrolled in an educational institution prior to the pandemic had some difficulty transitioning to virtual learning.
The few PWDs that were employed prior to the pandemic and participated in the survey, did not experience any difficulty with their employers and none loss their job as a result of the pandemic.
Another area that was drastically impacted was the social lives of PWDs. 93% of respondents enjoyed relatively healthy social lives prior to the pandemic, which were halted due to the imposed restrictions and lockdowns. Although many believed that they had coped well with the restrictions, 63% reported psychological and emotional distress.
It is well documented that all Guyanese have been impacted as a result of the pandemic, however PWDs have been more severely affected due to their vulnerable status and social location prior to the pandemic.
The data gathered reflects the need for more inclusive disaster and crisis response policies. The GCOPD remains committed to working with relevant stakeholders to ensure that persons with disabilities are represented in all spheres of society.
The study was made possible with funding from the US Embassy in Guyana.
The Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD) is the umbrella body that represents the majority of Disable People Organisations (DPOs) from across Guyana working in the areas of advocacy and capacity building. The DPOs represents all types of disabilities.