Impact of COVID on children with disabilities and their families

28 January, 2021

Dear HIFA-Zambia, HIFA and CHIFA colleagues,

Below are extracts from a poster at today's CORE conference. It draws attention to the many challenges faced by children with disabilities and their families in Zambia. Full text:


Children with disabilities and their families living in low- and middle-income countries encounter cumulative hardships without the presence of a global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely amplifying these hardships and increasing the risks of morbidity and mortality for this population.

The health impact assessment (HIA) aimed to understand the effects of both COVID-19 and the containment measures and restrictions implemented in Zambia on children with disabilities and their families living in resource-poor communities [in Zambia]...

Our findings indicate that overall, children with disabilities are adversely impacted by COVID-19. Most families reported a major loss of income (67%) resulting in stress, food and housing insecurity, and increased risk of child separation and neglect. As many as 79% of households are eating less or consuming food with lower nutritional value. Several families reported their child with disability began begging and seeking food outside of the home. Key services, such as physiotherapy, are no longer available. Of the minority of children who attend school (28%), most report schools have closed or reduced hours. Many families cannot access or afford COVID-19 prevention supplies...

Our findings indicate the need for disability-inclusive responses that deliberately address the unique needs of children with disabilities and their families, notably uninterrupted access to adequate food, inclusive education, rehabilitation therapy, and income-generating activities.

The findings from this assessment will inform the design of a larger, more in-depth assessment... providing an evidence base that stakeholders can use in their COVID-19 response and recovery planning.


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Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA-Zambia profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of HIFA-Zambia and the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ). Twitter: @hifa_org FB: