In the months that COVID-19 has affected thousands of lives in the Philippines (see how the country stacks up next to the rest of the world here), we have been learning new things about the nature of this highly contagious disease day by day.
We now know from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that certain sectors are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. The CDC has identified senior citizens, the morbidly obese, those with pre-existing health conditions, and persons with a weak or compromised immune system as the groups with increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. (Read: 3 Uplifting Prayers for the Sick and Healing)
The CDC says Persons with Disabilities (PWD) are also vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly the following:
- People who have limited mobility or who cannot avoid coming into close contact with others who may be infected, such as direct support providers and family members
- People who have trouble understanding information or practicing preventive measures such as hand washing and social distancing
- People who may not be able to communicate symptoms of illness
PWDs Reach Out
This is why Ben Romualdo Benavidez, head of Cabangan, Zambales’ Federation of PWDs, reached out to My Pope Philippines. Ben himself was the innocent victim of a shooting spree—a freak accident that damaged his spinal cord and paralyzed him from the waist down. He has been confined to a wheelchair since.
Founded in 1995, the Federation comprises 480 members from 22 barangays, whose disabilities range from the paraplegic to the hearing and visually impaired and individuals diagnosed with mental and psychosocial health issues. (Read: Let’s Treat Our PWDs Right!)
Ben says the organization was established “to know the situation of each of its members and monitor their health condition, to be aware of one’s disability, and to be part of society despite our disability.”
COVID-19 in Cabangan
Thankfully, cases of COVID-19 in Cabangan have been relatively low. According to Ben, a 72-year-old woman has recovered from the virus, while an 18-year-old male was confined to a hospital after testing positive for the virus when he arrived in Cabangan from the National Capital Region.
Still, stringent measures to prevent COVID-19’s spread have been hard on the town’s PWDs, limiting their moves and options.
“We cannot go outside to look for food, some have lost their jobs, and some cannot work because they are either bedridden or wheelchair-bound,” says Ben. “We have become depressed and stressed. Most of us can only stay home and pray.”
Looking for ways to help groups like Cabangan’s Federation of PWDs who are struggling to survive this pandemic? Get in touch with Ben through Facebook or mobile number (0910) 152-3545 and ask how you can be of assistance to them.