Across the globe, many countries have faced severe social and economic impacts of the Covid-19. Different concerns about Covid-19 impacts have been expressed, particularly on populations with disabilities, many of these include their susceptibility to contract Covid-19, possible stigmatization, limited access to healthcare, food and medications (International Disability Alliance 2020, Inclusive Futures and UK Aid 2020).
In Liliane Foundation funded project on Community Base Rehabilitation (CBR) in Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, RCI and its Partner Organisations (POs) have been providing children with disabilities a wide range of support activities such as home/clinic-based care, school support, nutrition, parent training and therapy. The spread of Covid-19 has delayed the project implementation, and more seriously driven many children with disabilities, as beneficiaries of the project into unpleasant state that they are kept home during the outbreak.
Initial discussion between RCI and its POs revealed very first visible impacts on children with disabilities. Some of them become inactive and spend more time with TV and smart phone. Some others cannot receive regular care and therapy, leading to unimproved health. In this regard, other impacts on mental health, possible domestic abuses will need to be studied further.
RCI and its POs have agreed to conduct an action research for this purpose. The action research will implemented in three countries of Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, led by RCI with the participation of its seven POs. They are the Rabbit School, Disability Development Services Program (DDSP) and Veterans International Cambodia (VIC) in Cambodia, The Leprosy Mission Myanmar (TLMM) in Myanmar, the Charity Association of Quang Tri Province (QCA), Vietnam Health Improvement Project (VNHIP) and the Office of Genetic Counseling and Disabled Children (OGCDC) in Vietnam.
Target groups or informants of the action research are persons affected by leprosy, children with disabilities and their family members and caregivers in Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia.
When completed, the action research will provide insights to:
- Understand impacts of Covid-19 on mental health and physical health of people affected by leprosy, children with disabilities, parent-child synchrony and possible psychological distress of persons affected by leprosy, children with disabilities and their family members and/or caregivers;
- Uncover the national and community support and aids that attribute to the increase or mitigation of the impacts on persons affected by leprosy, children with disabilities and their families. The support and aids can manifest in finance, awareness raising, emergency relief or inclusiveness;
- Identify very actionable recommendations for RCI and its POs to develop relevant future interventions.
The implementation and findings of the action research will be published by the Research Center for Inclusion (RCI) in September 2020.