Her Excellency Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Director General of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services and Editor-in-Chief of Al Manal e-magazine published by the city since 1987, has confirmed that humans have been facing a great challenge since last year that has cast a shadow over everyone. (COVID 19) has changed the face of the world and imposed unexpected practices on people.
This came in a statement to Her Excellency on Al Manal magazine entering its thirty-fifth year. The publication aims at educating the Arab family, providing it with information, theoretical, and applied knowledge as well as training programs and raising their health awareness.
The editor-in-chief said, “It is true that the aim of the measures of isolation and social distancing were to protect people from the pandemic, but these measures have resulted in the accumulation of more burdens on persons with disabilities, their parents and those working with them. In addition to the difficulty of implementing many of them for those who depend in their life on the support of others”.
She added, “Dozens of institutions and centers in the Arab world and around the world have closed or reduced the number of their members and workers in line with the procedures. The pandemic confined thousands of people with disabilities to their homes with the implementation of the lockdown. Then, they entered into depression that did not affect them only, which exacerbated the size of the problems that were already present. Not to mention the decline in skills of many persons with disabilities due to the disruption of services and the lack of practice of these skills”.
She explained that the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities and their parents have multiplied several times due to the pandemic. This group is one of the most marginalized groups in terms of (health) before Corona; imagine the case with its existence. As it is possible that their incidence of infection is greater because of health conditions such as the presence of some comorbidities such as chronic and respiratory diseases, in addition to weak immunity.
There is no doubt that the COVID 19 crisis has affected spending time negatively for people with disabilities. The pandemic has led to home bans and the lack of activities that they were practicing, and all of this has implications on the psychological and social aspects.
Her Excellency the Director General of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services referred to the field of work where companies were more likely to dismiss persons with disabilities or reduce their wages. She has confirmed that companies must improve work conditions and adjust it to achieve an adequate income for persons with disabilities and maintain their health and safety. With an emphasis on implementing, a comprehensive plan to provide care to them during crises and to avoid the negatives that specialist further discovered after Corona pandemic.
She also affirmed that officials and those concerned must take critical decisions to confront discrimination and obstacles that prevent persons with disabilities from accessing services, health care, safe social integration, and education in accordance with best practices.
The experience of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services in facing COVID-19
Her Excellency Sheikha Jameela Al Qasimi explained that with the beginning of the pandemic, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services was at a great crossroads, but the city faced COVID 19 according to a tight plan. It never stopped providing its services to those who deserve it.
In this context, and within several measures with good results, the city launched an e-learning and training platform that made it easier for the foundation to move to (distance education) in short time in light of the availability of infrastructure and technical skills that contributed greatly to that.
She pointed to the fact that 724 students and 682 parents have benefited from the city platform for education and training in less than one year. 266 Teachers and specialists supervised the publication of 1257 educational videos, 580 instructional videos and 5,934 educational goals. It witnessed 259 virtual follow-ups of 141 students integrated into nurseries and schools. 828 people participated in the virtual summer caravan, which included (virtual educational and professional workshops, activities, and various events).
She said, "We faced many difficulties and challenges, and still face them from time to time, because the (COVID 19) crisis has not ended yet. Nevertheless, the city will not stop there and will move forward, using its experience, faith and dedication of the work team”.
On (Al-Manal) entering its thirty-fifth year, Her Excellency said that the city renews the covenant before its students with disabilities, their parents and society on continuity and the achievement of near and strategic goals in all fields. It also puts its expertise within the reach of everyone locally, regionally and internationally, during normal times and during crises. It will always be as His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah wanted it to be when he said, “Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services is not for Sharjah alone, not for the United Arab Emirates, nor for the Gulf region alone. Rather, a global Arab start provides services in all fields to people with disabilities anywhere in the world.