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Covid-19 heightens vulnerability of PWDs

People living with disabilities (PWDs) in Bulawayo have revealed that the Covid-19 exposed them to a lot of scams with some people and organisations taking advantage of their situation to make money. 

This came out during a meeting on Friday by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) and Bulawayo City Council (BCC) on challenges experienced by PWDs at ward level.

Speaking during the meeting, Arnold Ncube from ward 16 said poverty exposed PWDs to many scams during this Covid-19 pandemic. 

“As PWDs, during Covid-19 we became more vulnerable as we were exposed to a number of people who came in the name of assisting us while scamming us in the process,” said Ncube.

“We lost money in the process, you find that there are some people who came to us promising to give us financial assistance. We were made to pay US$5 so we could be assisted but we never received anything,” he said.

Another participant added that some organisations approached them promising to assist them with food aid, but when the aid came they never benefitted. 

Gladys Ndzombane from ward 18 added that access to personal protective equipment for PWDs is a challenge.

“When Covid-19 started we were really complying to the rules and regulations but as it is, we are now relaxing due to water shortages to even at least wash our hands. We are now failing to practice good hygiene, we cannot afford to buy sanitizers as they are expensive,” said Ndzombane.

In addition, Sukoluhle Mhlanga said the use of sanitizer dispensers in clinics affected most PWD as most of them are using wheelchairs.

“When it comes to our clinics, we realised that most of them use dispensers for sanitizers, this was a hindrance to most of us as we use wheelchairs hence cannot manage to stand and sanitize our hands,” said Mhlanga.

“We are calling on the council to revisit its patient charter so that they can also cater for PWDs”.

Ward 17 Councillor Sikhululekile Moyo said the local authority is going to look into the issue so that PWDs can access health services easily.

“As the local Authority we are going to make follow ups in clinics on the issue of sanitizer dispensers at our clinics, there is a need to improve as council,” said Cllr Moyo.

She,however, urged PWDs to approach their councillors in their wards so that they can highlight some of their challenges they face in their different wards. 

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