BY PATRICIA SIBANDA
A BULAWAYO-BASED non-governmental organisation yesterday said COVID-19 had negatively impacted on children with disabilities, leaving them more vulnerable.
The Zimbabwe Down’s Syndrome Association (ZDSA), which was formed in 1984, told Southern Eye that children with Down syndrome were one of the worst groups affected as they were left out of government and private sector cushioning programmes during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
ZDSA director Sibonisiwe Mazula said the coronavirus pandemic also severely affected their organisation’s programming and stalled preparations for World Down Syndrome Day, which is commemorated on March 21 each
“We probably will not be able to commemorate the day as we have been facing a lot of challenges due to COVID-19,” she said.
“We had started the fundraising activities but there has not been much progress on that front. This is just a picture of how COVID-19 has affected our programming.”
Mazula said most children with Down syndrome were viewed as outcasts and were discriminated against in many programmes, while their parents and guardians face challenges when they move around with them, as society seems to despise such children.
She said ZDSA used to be funded by Africa Development Foundation, which gave them a grant to run a peanut butter production project in 2011.
Recently, they faced financial challenges, which forced their programmes to be put on hold.
Research by the organisation shows that people with Down syndrome have always existed.
However, it was not until 1866 that an English doctor, John Langdon Down, published a description of the condition, which subsequently assumed his name.
It is not known yet what causes the presence of an extra chromosome 21, which causes the condition.
However, it is said that it can come from either parent. Persons with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.
“What we know is that no one is to blame. Nothing done before or after pregnancy can cause this condition. It occurs in all races, and across social classes and in all countries around the world,” the organisation said.