Our goal is to create a disabilities-inclusive COVID-19 prevention campaign. Our campaign is focused on improving communication among persons with disabilities (PwD) and capacity-building of local organizations to bolster the Tanzanian COVID-19 response.
About 3.2 million Tanzanians live with a disability (such as hearing, cognitive, and physical impairments) and regularly face stigma, underemployment, violence, and lack of accessible information. These disparities have further widened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with challenges such as lack of persons with disabilities (PwD)-tailored health communications, increased potential risks due to underlying chronic conditions, unequal medical treatment and access, and few resources to access clean water and soap further exacerbating their risk to contract the disease. As of June 2, 2020, Tanzania has reported 509 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 21 deaths, which may be a severe undercount of the true COVID-19 spread that can disproportionately affect the PwD community.
Our team has partnered with Tanzanian non-profit Shirati for Active Rehabilitation & Development Organization (SARDO). Together, we are building a disabilities-inclusive grassroots campaign to support PwD throughout COVID-19, and create long-lasting sustainable change for the local community. Our project delivers targeted COVID-19 health education and health equipment to Tanzanians using an inclusive approach. We tailor COVID-19 prevention recommendations from experts and local Tanzanian health organizations to fill an unmet information gap for PwD audiences by creating disabilities accessible content requiring no literacy skills, as well as a virtual campaign to raise awareness around the International Day of Disabilities.
To complement educational campaigns, our project will deploy touchless handwashing stations built by local welders, hire female community health promoters, distribute sanitation supplies, create web content, and issue face masks with transparent mouth areas to enable lip reading for hearing impaired Tanzanians. The project will positively impact PwDs and their surrounding community by slowing the spread of COVID-19, developing self-efficacy, and enabling stronger water, sanitation and hygiene measures around the community to prevent future outbreaks.
To evaluate our campaign, we plan to conduct community-based participatory surveys on health behaviors observed among PwD. Results from the surveys will indicate which parts of the campaign are well-received, in contrast to those which must be better executed. We aim to include PwD within all aspects of our decision-making and training programs. We plan to communicate our campaign’s progress in the form of a shadow report, sharing this document with local government officials to spearhead policy change that will improve PwD way of life within Tanzania.
This project was completed virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.