ASEAN forum talks protection of social security for PWDs in face of COVID-19 hinh anh 1The ASEAN Disability Forum takes place via videoconference on December 18 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) was held virtually on December 18 with a focus on protecting social security for persons with disabilities (PWDs) during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking from Hanoi, Nguyen Van Hoi, Director of the Social Assistance Department at Vietnam’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said ASEAN has a population of more than 625 million, including about 100 million PWDs.

Member countries have always paid attention to issues related to the disabled, but PWDs in not only Vietnam but also other ASEAN countries still face numerous difficulties, especially in accessing healthcare, education, vocational training, employment, and credit, he noted.

Hoi described 2020 as a special year when the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to healthcare and social security, requiring governments to take action to realise the twin targets of containing the outbreak and boosting socio-economic development, particularly for vulnerable groups of which PWDs, women, and children are more susceptible.

The official also shared some of Vietnam’s experiences and programmes in supporting PWDs in the post-pandemic period, as well as certain shortcomings that need cooperation between the State and people to handle.

Agreeing about COVID-19 impacts on vulnerable groups, including the disabled, President of the Vietnam Union of PWDs Associations Dang Huynh Mai said to help PWDs weather difficulties, the union has worked with its member organisations, ministries, and sectors to carry out many activities such as boosting communications to raise PWDs’ awareness of the coronavirus, providing essential goods to those in need, and encouraging donations.

She also expressed her hope that experiences shared at the forum would help minimise the pandemic’s impacts and effectively implement the “ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” for the sake of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community.

At the event, participants looked into ways to ensure PWDs’ response during and after the pandemic via the implementation of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025. They also discussed social security measures and essential public services with specialised groups./.