Disability is a Big Risk Factor for Coronavirus Related Death

The coronavirus pandemic no doubt, one of the most horrifying events of this year. While it doesn’t spare anyone who comes into its radar, but the risk of coronavirus related death is higher in people with disabilities.

As disabled people are much likely to have some underlying medical conditions which make to get affected by the virus more than other people. If they get COVID-19, the chances of complications and death are also higher in them. Due to this reason, the Australian government has made certain new policies to protect old-age citizens from coronavirus.

Every one out of five persons in Australia is living with a disability. This includes physical as well as multiple disabilities in one same person. These disabilities put people at a greater risk of coronavirus as their co-existing diseases or medical problems affect their immunity hence making them an easy target for coronavirus.

Generally, disabled people live in isolation, economically poor or dependent upon others. This adds up to their vulnerability to be a victim during a pandemic. The study of previous pandemics has shown that inequalities in health services are prominent especially for smaller communities or groups. But do disabled people de-prioritized during such a situation?

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This time is difficult for everyone and everyone deserves to attain all health facilities and people with disabilities should not be left out during this.

There are already so many reports from all major parts of the world, suggesting old age patients and disabled patients to be neglected and somehow deprioritized for healthcare offers and services. Italian organizations have set specific guidelines for all intensive care units to prioritize people which have high chances of survival and hence a medicinal and therapeutic success. It directly eliminates certain groups of people to enjoy these healthcare facilities including disabled people.

The disabled people often have underlying medical conditions and it reduces their chance of recovery, hence often neglected during intensive healthcare. But Australia and New Zealand Intensive Care Society has recently updated their new guideline for medical staff, admitting and or acknowledging the health care right of disabled and victimized groups during the times of pandemic.

The new guideline suggests that doctors can take necessary decisions based on the estimated outcome even for people with underlying diseases. It doesn’t specifically mention disabled people but it shows that it might be talking about them.

All those people who need help and support even to do daily life activities such as changing clothes, walking, eating, bathing or moving surely need someone to be with them all the time. So it is harder for them to follow all the precautions and preventive measures so save themselves from coronavirus. They cant self-isolate themselves, they cant do the groceries and other supplies by themselves and also they can’t even manage to live all by themselves.

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So the coronavirus pandemic is not only risky for disabled persons but also to their independence. The regular help that they get from others, including the healthcare staff, could be affected during the time of a disease outbreak. Even if they aren’t living alone, during the time of a pandemic, living in a congregate household is not best for people with disabilities.

The most important thing here to remember is that the risk of coronavirus is not just limited to this one problem. For an elderly or disabled patient, the risk is double and triple in terms of health service disruptions, discontinued support, changed routine, unavailability of medicines or supplies and other health problems to show up.

In a way, this coronavirus pandemic has added new perspectives to design healthcare units and emergency care plans. The ideal plans are made for normal people but they should also include the disabled people as well as older people, both of which, being immune-compromised are at high risk of any pandemic disease.

Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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