People with disabilities in Viet Nam are among those most affected by the COVID-19 situation

May 9, 2020

Live interview: right to left - Nhu Quynh (interviewee); Nguyen Minh Chau (interviewer) Vu Giang (sign language interpreter)

The COVID-19 pandemic affects different groups of people differently. As recently recalled by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, “people with disabilities are among the hardest hit by COVID-19”. In Viet Nam, findings from a new rapid assessment reveal that 82 percent of respondents express concern about protecting their health and 96 percent of PwDs expressed concern for their financial security during COVID-19.

With the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Embassy of Ireland in Viet Nam and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), UNDP organized this rapid assessment to help identify health and socio-economic challenges faced by PwDs and their families during COVID-19, thus informing targeted support and responses for PwDs.

Nearly 1,000 people with different disabilities (physical; hearing and speech; visual; psychosocial), including those from ethnic minority groups, from many cities and provinces throughout Viet Nam participated in the assessment. 

behind the scenes

Q&A with UNDP experts

UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen

UNDP experts and Judges of photo contest.

Up to 70 percent of respondents found it challenging to access medical care, including check-ups, medicines, assistive devices and rehabilitation services. Meanwhile, 22 percent of them are suffering from underlying medical conditions potentially putting them at heightened risk from COVID-19. 28 percent found it challenging to access necessities, including personal protective equipment such masks, hand sanitizer, clean water, and soap, and getting adequate supplies of food.

As of March 2020, 72 percent of PwDs have a monthly income of less than 1 million VND. 30 percent of PwDs made unemployed due to COVID-19. 49 percent who work had their hours reduced, and 59% received a pay cut. 71 percent of working PwDs do seasonal/informal jobs or own an informal business, thus are at risk of being ineligible to receive allowances from the Government’s social welfare response package.

Addressing the launch, UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam Caitlin Wiesen highlighted the importance of disability-inclusive response to the efforts underway to address COVID-19. “While people living with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, at the same time, they have a vital role and contribution to make in overcoming and co-existing safely with COVID-19 in Viet Nam,” she said. “We must support persons with disabilities to develop skillsets to make full use of new digital platforms, creating more working from home and online employment opportunities, that enable them to work safely and competitively in the new industry 4.0 environment. These new ways of working can help many persons with disabilities to improve their income opportunities and continue to make significant contributions to Viet Nam’s economic recovery”. Read more

The report makes five key recommendations on the Government support for PwDs to meet their needs and help them better integrate into the community:

  • Provide emergency relief for the urgent needs of persons with disabilities, including medical care and services, telehealth services where appropriate;
  • Ensure that the Government’s support package is Disability-Inclusive to include persons with disabilities working in the informal sector;
  • Ensure PwDs’ financial security and education continuation with the provision of online jobs, accessible applications and digital platforms;
  • Extend coverage of the Disability Certificate to include the wider population with disabilities; and
  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on PwDs, with the full participation of PwDs, to design and implement the response and recovery programs.

For more details, see the full report:

Media contact: Nguyen Viet Lan, UNDP Communication Analyst, email:  phone: 0914436769