People with disabilities face many barriers in accessing good healthcare in Mzansi. On this week’s episode of Sisters Without Shame, Alan Downey the founder of Disability Info South Africa (DiSA), unpacks the most common barriers faced by communities of people living with disability and possible solutions.
DiSA was started in 2015 by Downey to provide a Free Disability Information Portal which not only gives easy access to information via its website but also through its free contact centre, offering advice and guidance to those in need.
Living with disabilities in Mzansi
Downey become a C5 Quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident in 1994. He defines living with a disability as any condition of the body or mind [impairment] that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.
“The white paper says that we need to be referred to as persons with disabilities. We are a person first and we have a disability second,” he says.
Barriers faced in healthcare access
Financial barriers are the most common roadblock in accessing treatment for persons living with disabilities.
“Not everybody can afford a medical aid and even with a medical aid, it still becomes expensive. You’ve got the co-payments and you have got equipment which is part of healthcare at the end of the day,” he says.
“A lot of equipment is imported so, besides the normal costs, you now pay extra because of the weakness of the Rand and export duties.”
Downey illustrates another example of a barrier faced by disabled persons and says that transport is another crucial factor. “Public transport isn’t always accessible. In most cases it is not accessible to persons with mobility impairments.”
“You need transport to access healthcare and accessible transport for persons living with disability specifically persons with mobility impairments can be up to 10 times what a normal person would pay.”
On this episode Downey also shares insight on the following:
- His personal experience in accessing healthcare as a person living with a disability.
- The difference between the medical model and social models of disability.
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
Apple Podcasts: Click here to listen on any Apple device.
Google Podcasts: Click here to listen on Google Podcast.
Want to connect with Sisters Without shame?
To send an SOS to Sisters Without Shame, email hello@healthformzansi. Alternatively, send a WhatsApp to 076 132 0454.
Get the Health For Mzansi newsletter: Your bi-weekly dose of kasi health, wellness and self-care inspiration.