Disability, COVID and public policies in Latin america and The Caribbean

Captura de pantalla 2020 07 08 a las 17.29.47

In Latin america and the Caribbean have particularities that lead us to confront the pandemic of the coronavirus in a different way to Europe and Asia. Unfortunately in the last few weeks it has been confirmed that in our region the contagions are advancing more rapidly than in the rest of the world, without having yet attained the peak of cases.

This situation has forced a large part of our countries to take measures to alleviate the effects of health, economic and social of the pandemic, with more or less focus on the population in a situation of disability. Let's look at the major steps taken:

  • Accessibility information: Panama, through its National Secretariat of the Disability, has implemented measures of accessibility to all the information to the public and of their national authorities. This has involved having interpreters in sign language, subtitles, and the use of high contrast in their platforms, the use of accessible formats in the documentation along with the easy-to-read and plain language. Also, the use of text messaging allows you to reach that population with low access to the internet, which has become more noticeable in the case of persons with disabilities.
  • Protection from violence: one of the problems most relevant to that have been in evidence in the landfill is gender-based violence and domestic. In line with this reality, Peru developed the necessary legislative action to ensure the care and protection of victims of violence against women and the members of the family group during the state of emergency. While the law did not incorporate, especially to people with disabilities, it is important to mention because it is the only Latin american policy that incorporates actions in line with this, stating that the actions must occur within 24 hours from the complaint, until that will dictate the measures of protection.
  • Telework: el 24 de marzo, a inicios de la crisis sanitaria, Chile promulgó una ley que modifica el Código del Trabajo para incorporar materias sobre el trabajo a distancia. En la práctica la ley reconoce la existencia del teletrabajo como un acuerdo mutuo entre la empresa y sus colaboradores, poniendo el acento en tres puntos: el derecho a la desconexión, que deberá ser al menos de 12 horas; el costo de la implementación del teletrabajo, que será a costo del empleador; y que esta modalidad no puede significar un menoscabo de las condiciones laborales individuales y colectivas de la persona acogida a esta modalidad. A raíz de la situación sanitaria, esta ley tuvo un impacto cultural muy importante en el mundo del trabajo. Randstad desarrolló recientemente un estudio sobre teletrabajo en las empresas, donde un 85% afirma que la Ley de Teletrabajo permitirá el ingreso de más personas con discapacidad a la esfera laboral. A su vez, la Red de Empresas Inclusivas, en un sondeo a sus empresas socias dio cuenta de un 95% de ellas ha tomado medidas como el teletrabajo para sus trabajadores en situación de discapacidad y otras poblaciones especialmente vulnerables en el contexto actual. Viendo estas cifras, se demuestra la necesidad de una legislación de este tipo, aunque hay que mantenerse observantes de la variable género en esta medida, ya que la corresponsabilidad es un tema pendiente en el país y la región; también será importante observar los ajustes razonables, así como factores de salud ocupacional que se apliquen en esta modalidad laboral, especialmente para aquellas personas con discapacidad que los requieren.
Captura de pantalla 2020 07 08 a las 16.48.05 980x549 1
  • Non-contributory pension: these measures are very relevant in terms of social security, have been strengthened in many countries of Latin america and the Caribbean product of the pandemic. The importance of these measures is to support the most vulnerable people in socio-economically, and avoid the increase of poverty among the population. Mexico, in the month of march, ahead of 4 months of pension for the elderly, and persons with disabilities; in the month of June he returned to repeat the measurement to allow these groups can face better the pandemic. For its part, Chile joined the Family Income of Emergency to the beneficiaries of the basic solidarity pension of invalidity they belong to the 80% most vulnerable of the population, so that these people with disabilities will receive an amount in addition to your current pension, with a duration of 3 months.

This pincelazo of public policy seeks to give an account of 4 basic needs in the pandemic, and how they are being addressed in our region. Today the main thing is to keep the social distancing measures and prevention of the infection, which intersects with the base conditions of our societies, as they are gender inequality, discrimination against people with disabilities, socio-economic inequality, and what we added today the high risk of infection of people with disabilities.

Many challenges remain to be resolved, but the lesson learned so far is that any measure taken for the welfare of the people, and with respect to the exercise of their fundamental rights, will not only protect the population of the pandemic, but that is out of this with a citizenship that is strong and supportive. On the contrary, today's challenges without answering tomorrow will be the social demands, which in the case of disability will continue adding debt to our region.

Felipe Candia Jélvez
Mg. Management and Labour Inclusion of PsD