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Council: Healthcare system must be inclusive to cater to disabled, especially for Covid-19 vaccines

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Council for the Blind Malaysia (NCBM) has urged the government to build an inclusive healthcare system for the disabled with access to the Covid-19 vaccines.

In a statement, the NCBM expressed its concerns over the accessibility of 592,878 people with disabilities (PWD) in the country, to the government's National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP).

"The NCBM would like to thank the government for prioritising PWD in the second phase of vaccination which will commence on April 19.

"The government must ensure PWD can easily access the vaccine and be truly protected from this life-threatening pandemic," it said.

It added that the government must include PWD and their representative organisations in the policy and decision-making process to reflect the needs and situation of all citizens.

NBM said in conjunction with World Health Day 2021 which falls on April 7, the government must fulfil the Asean Enabling Masterplan 2025 which reiterated the provision of quality and accessible health care.

"Simplify and facilitate the process for vaccination registration and reception amongst PWD and to ensure the vaccination centres are accessible, including the provision of appropriate equipment, facilities, and services such as ramps, accessible parking space, accessible information and Malaysian sign language interpreters.

"(The country needs) to ensure vaccinators and other related staff members are trained to interact and support PWD, other than publicly convey vaccine-related information including its side effects, which is easily understood by people with intellectual disabilities as well.

"(The country must also) include parents, carers and care workers who are the primary care providers to PWD as part of the priority group in the second phase of the NIP," it said.

NCBM also urged the Science, Technology and Innovation and Health ministries 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 PWD.

"This is one of the important facets in mainstreaming the rights of PWD as enshrined in the Asean Enabling Masterplan 2025.

"These are very crucial steps as we strive to build a fairer and healthier world as advocated by the World Health Organisation for this year's World Health Day campaign.

"The adoption of the approach and mutual collaboration with marginalised communities will ensure the success and inclusivity of the NIP and develop a better health system for all," it said.

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