Good morning,

Xin chao cac ban,

I am delighted to be with you this morning to launch the results of the Rapid Assessment on ensuring a Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19.

This assessment was organized under the framework of our PAPI project, or the Provincial Administrative Performance Index which is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Embassy of Ireland in Viet Nam, and the Korea-Viet Nam Mine Action Project supported by the Korean International Cooperation Agency, (KOICA).

First I would like to extend our thanks to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs for their inputs to the survey questionnaire. Above all, we are grateful to all the organizations and volunteers who collected responses, and to all those who took the time to complete the survey.

As UNDP, we are proud to have taken an active role in promoting a disability-inclusive response to COVID-19, both by doing this assessment and by supporting the sharing of information on the Pandemic in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, including by extending sign language interpretation for news updates on VTV1.

I would now like to share three key messages from this Assessment:

Firstly, the rapid assessment gives us important insights into the challenges faced by persons with disabilities especially in the context of COVID-19 and represents the first step on a longer journey of responding to these challenges. What we do know is that in general, persons with disabilities are less likely to access: education, healthcare, income opportunities, and to participate in the community. The Pandemic intensifies these inequalities and the Assessment results show that more needs to be done on how specifically COVID-19 is affecting the lives of persons with different disabilities. It is only then that we can we adopt a truly nuanced approach that is tailored to the challenges that people with different disability faces, including physical and psychosocial disabilities.

Secondly, we know from the assessment that persons with disabilities have urgent healthcare needs. We know that older people and those with underlying medical conditions are more vulnerable to the virus. Unfortunately, both these groups are disproportionately represented among persons with disabilities. We therefore must strengthen our efforts to provide immediate protection for these at risk groups. The assessment found that 70% of persons with disabilities are experiencing significant challenges in accessing necessary medical care and rehabilitation. We must move quickly to ensure full access to healthcare for persons with disabilities, and where possible use telehealth services, new technologies and online platforms to reach those in urgent need.

Which leads to my third and final point, and I would say most importantly, the programme for recovery must recognize the valuable contribution persons with disabilities can make to overcoming and co-existing safely with COVID-19 in Viet Nam. The Assessment shows that 30% of respondents became unemployed due to COVID-19, 49% have had their hours reduced, and 59% received a pay cut. As part of the recovery, we must support persons with disabilities to develop skillsets to make full use of new digital platforms, in creating more working from home or online employment opportunities, in the new industry 4.0 environment. These new ways of working can help many persons with disabilities to improve their income opportunities and in continue to make significant contributions to Viet Nam’s economic recovery.

Just last week, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged governments worldwide to put persons with disabilities at the centre of their response plans and recalled [and here I quote]:

“When we secure the rights of persons with disabilities, we are investing in our common future.”

To conclude, I would like to emphasize that as the focus shifts to recovering from COVID-19, persons with disabilities must not be simply seen as beneficiaries, but as agents of change who understand best the challenges they face and the most effectives ways to overcome them. We must make sure that persons with disabilities get to fully participate in decision making on the recovery. To echo the central principle underpinning the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: “Nothing about us without us.”

I thank you for joining us this morning, and UNDP Viet Nam looks forward to continue working with you, and on your behalf, to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and in investing in our common future here in Viet Nam.

Xin Cam On.

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