Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

“Vulnerable” or Systematically Excluded? The Impact of Covid-19 on Disabled People in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

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Abstract:  The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected disabled people across the globe. This review article maps the impact of the pandemic on disabled people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICS) during the first ten months of the pandemic, based on a semi-systematic review of 113 articles of empirical and “grey” literature. We highlight the multiple exclusions faced by disabled people across the sectors of health, education, economy, community, and pandemic management. Following this, we discuss the broader issues arising from the literature, including the systematic de-prioritisation of disabled people in emergency planning, the ongoing framing of disability as a medical rather than a social or human rights issue, a recognition of how the complexity of societal structures creates systematic disadvantage, and local, national, and global policymakers’ lack of engagement with disabled people during pandemic management. We identify the need for both stronger quantitative evidence on disability in LMICs to inform planning and policy processes, and the need for equitable collaboration with disabled people from LMICs across research, policy, and development programming, in the spirit of “Nothing About Us Without Us.”

Keywords:  community; Covid-19; development; disability; disabled people; economy; education; Global South; health; low- and middle-income countries



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© Vera Kubenz, Dina Kiwan. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.