On April 7, AGENDA Partner, National Council of the Blind Malaysia (NCBM), issued a press statement on World Health Day to promote an inclusive COVID-19 vaccination program for persons with disabilities in Malaysia. In its press statement, NCBM urged the Malaysian government to simplify the process for vaccination registration and to ensure vaccination centers are accessible for persons with disabilities. This includes providing appropriate equipment, facilities and services such as ramps, accessible parking spaces, accessible information and Malaysian sign language interpreters.
NCBM encouraged the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) to work closely with the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development, other state departments, district offices responsible for social welfare and DPO organizations to implement COVID-19 related policies and measures. To amplify its message, NCBM referenced the Enabling Masterplan action points that reiterate the provision of quality and accessible health care and services for persons with disabilities such as AEC 17 and ASCC 6. The press statement was published by the New Straits Times Malaysia on April 5 and posted on NCBM’s ASEAN Enabling Masterplan – Malaysia Facebook Page on April 7.
NCBM PRESS STATEMENT ON WORLD HEALTH DAY, April 7th, 2021
“Build A Fairer Health System for Persons with Disabilities”
Presently, the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) are working hard to make sure all Malaysian citizens are vaccinated against the COVID-19. The government of Malaysia through the National COVID-19 Immunization Program implements several measures to ensure sufficient vaccine supply, systematic distribution process, as well as vaccine-related information is publicly accessible.
Although persons with disabilities are recognized as one of the priority groups in the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination, the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM) remains concerned about the accessibility of 592,878 persons with disabilities in Malaysia to the COVID-19 immunization program. The government of Malaysia must ensure persons with disabilities can easily access the vaccine and to be truly protected from this life-threatening pandemic.
Today, as we celebrate World Health Day 2021, we call on the government of Malaysia to fulfill the action program of AEC 17 and ASCC 6 as outlined in the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025 by adopting the following measures:
- Simplify and facilitate the process for vaccination registration and reception amongst persons with disabilities.
- Ensure the vaccination centers are accessible for persons with disabilities, including the provision of appropriate equipment, facilities, and services such as ramps, accessible parking space, and Malaysian Sign Language interpreters.
- Ensure the vaccinators and other related staff are trained to interact and support persons with disabilities.
- Ensure all vaccine-related information, including its side effects and the rate of probabilities of having side effects, are publicly accessible for persons with disabilities in various formats, including the provision of the accessible website and easy read version for people with intellectual disabilities.
- Include parents, carers, and care workers who are the primary care providers to persons with disabilities as part of the priority group in the second phase of the National COVID-19 Immunization Program as these groups closely and frequently interact with persons with disabilities.
Beyond that, the government of Malaysia must review and amend current policies and legislation, which are in effect during the state of emergency as well as the movement control order; namely, the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 (Act 342). MOSTI and MOH are strongly advised to work closely with the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development, state departments and district offices of social welfare, as well as organizations of and for persons with disabilities in implementing these measures.
The government of Malaysia must include persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in the policy and decision-making process so the policies and laws reflect the needs and situation of all citizens, including persons with disabilities. This is one of the important facets in mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities 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 Organization (WHO) for this year’s World Health Day campaign. The adoption of the Whole of Government approach and mutual collaboration with marginalized communities will ensure the success and inclusivity of the National COVID-19 Immunization Program and develop a better health system for all.
The National Council for the Blind, Malaysia was formed and registered in 1986 to bring together five organizations for and of blind people to work as partners. Our mission as a national coordinating body is to assist Member Organisations in developing services so that blind people, no matter where they live in the country, may enjoy equal opportunity in education, rehabilitation, and employment.
For any inquiry about our work, please contact:
Mr. Wong Yoon Loong
Manager of the Center for Advocacy, Research, and Empowerment
National Council for the Blind, Malaysia