Lucy Ejike suffered polio as a child and became disabled by it. Her disability notwithstanding, she followed through with her dreams in sports, powerlifting. Since her debut in 2000, Lucy continued to win medals for her country in the Paralympics.

Lucy is one of over 25 million Nigerians living with a physical disability facing discrimination, poverty, abuse, and limited access to education, employment and opportunities.

Lucy was able to get an education and get a life; let’s not talk about all the difficulties she had to pull through. What about other disabled people that can’t as much as afford a good meal a day?

According to the Merriam-webster dictionary, disability refers to any physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person’s ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions.

Disability is a widespread endemic in Nigeria.

In every city, on every street in Nigeria, you see disabled people everywhere trying to make ends meet. Those born into wealth are supported by their families to pursue their dreams still and manage to make a living. A few can learn skills like shoemaking, bag making etc., through which they make a living. Many others have to beg their way through a meal a day.

Education is a costly luxury for persons with disabilities, and many families are not financially buoyant enough to cater to the special education needs of their disabled wards. The visually impaired Nigerian singer, songwriter and music producer Cobhams Asuquo reflected that the New Mathematics Textbook was N350, but the braille version cost N10,000.

In Nigeria, there are no separate elevators for persons with disabilities. So, they have to go through the rigour of climbing stairs to get to wherever they need to be. For Lucy Ejike, it was a hassle to climb storey buildings to get to lecture halls and administrative offices.

Persons with disabilities are denied their political right to vote for and be voted for. Despite the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act of 2018, which is supposed to strengthen the institutional landscape for disability inclusion through the Disability Commission, there is little or no implementation yet at all levels of government.

Getting a job in Nigeria is already a hustle for people who do not have disabilities. Imagine what persons with disabilities will have to go through to secure a job. First, they have to endure discrimination from employers and countless rejections. And if they do get hired, then there is the issue of mobility. Nigerian corporate institutions have little or no facilities to help persons with disabilities. This is why the unemployment rate among persons with disabilities is almost double that of the general population.

And, of course, when someone cannot provide for himself, poverty becomes inevitable. Poverty hits differently for persons with disability, and their economic disability is compounded by their physical disability. The worst part is that the government do not even care about them.

Do we even talk about the stigmatisation and emotional implications of having a disability? Persons with disabilities as seen as charity cases, and the first impression they make on anyone is that of pity and sympathy. It can be a harrowing experience to be seen as incapacitated to do anything meaningful.

The burden of disabilities is endless.

What can be done?

Many people have talked about some measures to help the socioeconomic status of persons with disabilities.

But, what if disabilities can be avoided totally through immunisation/vaccination?

A greater percentage of the disabilities people suffer today could have been prevented by immunisation.

Immunisation has helped nearly eradicate fatal diseases and infections such as Polio, Tetanus, Flu, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rubella, Measles, Whooping cough, Chickenpox, Smallpox, Diphtheria, Haemophilus Influenza, Mumps, Meningococcal, Rotavirus, Pneumococcal disease etc.

Immunisations protect us from serious diseases and also help to keep those diseases from spreading to others. They protect us by priming our immune systems for specific organisms before the infection occurs. When a vaccinated person comes into contact with these diseases, their immune system is better able to respond, preventing the disease from forming or lessening its severity.

Immunisation protects not only your own family but also others by helping to control serious diseases in our community. When a sufficient percentage of a community is vaccinated against infectious disease, it reduces the likelihood of that infection for those who lack immunity. This is what we call herd immunity.

Immunisation is much easier and more cost-effective than treating the disease. Given the high cost of healthcare, it is cheaper to get vaccinated against infection than treat it. By getting your family vaccinated, you save a lot of money that you would have spent on treatment. You also save your family from fatality, disability, or discomfort with the infection.

Immunisation also protects future generations by eradicating diseases. Many diseases like Polio, Chickenpox, etc., are near extinction due to immunisation. So, it is not just about now; it’s also about the future.

What we do at DO

Ability is an advocacy campaign project for the establishment of the rights of people with disability to be recognised as bonafide members of society through encouraging social support, ensuring accessibility to healthcare and education facilities with disability inclusion, and donation of assistive devices such as hearing aids, wheelchairs, pill organisers, etc.

Join us today in this fight against disability by becoming a Grassroots Development Champion (GDC) and carrying out this project in your community.

Collaborate with us through donations and partnerships to sponsor our quest to advocate for persons with disabilities and make life bearable for them.

More importantly, take this as a soft reminder to immunise your family in this month of immunisation.