May 19, 2020, Chisinau
Almost 50% of people with disabilities say they have not had access to information about the pandemic, and 51% say they have felt much more nervous during this period. At the same time, the economic crisis, the loss of income, quarantine, the medical system that may not be able to cope with the demands, and the loss of a loved one are among the fears faced by over 70% of people with disabilities during the pandemic. These are data from the study “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disabilities”, conducted by Keystone Moldova Association and the Alliance of Organizations for People with Disabilities in the Republic of Moldova (AOPD).
Most respondents state that they do not know about the information platforms www.incluziune.md and www.informat.md, but they know about the Free Telephone Assistance Service for people with disabilities.
Eighty-one percent of respondents did not contact a doctor, psychologist, or hotline to discuss their psychological condition during this period. Only 27% say they felt ignored by the authorities during this period, and 38% mention that they needed to communicate with someone about their psychological discomfort.
More than half of the respondents claim that their families are economically and socially affected by the pandemic. Thirty-six percent of the respondents mentioned that income from salaries decreased considerably in their families with the cessation / reduction of work. At the same time, more than a third of respondents (37%) believe that they will not lose their job, and 26% do not know if they will lose their job in the next period.
Among the biggest difficulties faced by people with disabilities during a pandemic are access to public transport – 76%, fear, isolation – 73%, access to medical services – 68%, reduction / loss of income – 64%, and access to social services – 60%.
In terms of expenses, over 80% of families with disabilities say that during this period they bought more hygienic / disinfectant products, and 61% bought more food. More than half of the respondents claim that they bought more medical products and paid more for household maintenance.
In case of prolonging the state of emergency, 27% of respondents mentioned that it will be impossible for them to cover their basic needs, 61% consider that it will be hard to manage but hope to cover their basic needs, and only 12% claim to have enough income / savings.
The research also shows that 42% of respondents mentioned that some social services were reduced or closed during the pandemic, and 43% of families with persons with disabilities were affected by the closure of social services.
Parents of people with disabilities (41%), young people with disabilities (31%), and women with disabilities (29%) consider that they have a more difficult situation in pandemic conditions.
In 2020, the number of calls to the Free Telephone Assistance Service for Persons with Disabilities (0 8001 0808) increased, the highest number (288 calls) being registered in the month when the state of emergency was declared in the Republic of Moldova.
The most frequently noticed problems by people with disabilities who accessed the Free Telephone Assistance Service were lack of medicines in pharmacies, lack of protective materials in residential institutions, poor conditions in psychiatric hospitals where people with disabilities were hospitalized with COVID-19, cessation of appointments for specialized health services, cessation of access to rehabilitation services and assistance or prosthesis.
The persons who accessed the Free Telephone Assistance Service for Persons with Disabilities claimed problems related to insufficient and unclear information about the procedure for contesting fines or judicial penalties received during the emergency period; the limited capacities of social services employees to manage behavioral problems, conditions anxiety, fear and aggression from people with disabilities and cessation of access to information and communication with people outside the institution.
The research “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disabilities” was implemented by Keystone Moldova in collaboration with AOPD based on a survey of 257 people with disabilities and their families, group discussions with representatives of 38 NGOs, qualitative analysis of about 600 calls received by the Free Telephone Assistance Service for people with disabilities in the last three months. The study is coordinated by Prof., PhD habilitate in sociology Ludmila Malcoci.