Saigoneer

BackStories » Vietnam » Vietnam's People With Disabilities Face Many Challenges During Epidemic, Survey Shows

While life in Vietnam is slowly returning to normal, the COVID-19 epidemic has dealt a blow to the livelihood of many citizens, with people living with disabilities among the most heavily impacted.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published their findings from a report on the socioeconomic challenges that Vietnamese living disabilities faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the study, 986 people with disabilities were surveyed on issues relating to health, income and employment, among others.

The respondents feature a balanced mix of male and female respondents and rural and urban residents. All types of disabilities, including physical, audio and visual impairment, and psychosocial, were represented.

Health is unsurprisingly among the top-of-mind concerns for survey respondents, with 82% feeling worried about protecting their health during the epidemic. Around 22% of surveyees have an underlying condition, making them more vulnerable in case of a COVID-19 infection. As many as 70% of them encounter difficulties in accessing healthcare services, such as checkups, medicines and assistive devices. Procuring masks and hand sanitizers is also challenging for 25% of those surveyed.

Almost all respondents (96%) are concerned about their financial security, especially during a time when many are being made redundant: a staggering 30% of people with disabilities became unemployed during the COVID-19 epidemic. Among those who still have a job, 59% have suffered a pay cut, while 49% of respondents experienced reduced work time.

More worryingly, 71% of those surveyed identify as either seasonal workers or informal business owners, so they might not qualify for COVID-19-related financial assistance announced by authorities.

The UNDP report also features recommendations on how Vietnam can better help people with disabilities recover after the epidemic. These measures include prioritizing immediate assistance in food, financial allowances, and medical care; making sure that the government resilience package is inclusive of people with disabilities working in informal sectors; and ensuring the financial security of people with disabilities through training and skill development.

The 2016 National Survey on Persons with Disabilities estimated that around 7% of the Vietnamese population are living with a disability, which amounts to around 6.2 million people.

[Photo by Nguyen A via Flickr account ILO Asia-Pacific]