WHO welcomes the forthcoming agreement at a High-Level Meeting at the United Nations General Assembly which will further improve access to health care and related services for people with disabilities and ensure that they are able to contribute to the sustainable development of their communities.
On 23 September, Heads of State - in their first-ever global meeting on this topic - are scheduled to recommend:
including people with disabilities in the setting and implementation of development agendas post-2015;
addressing the many barriers people with disabilities face in daily life - such as difficulties in accessing health-care services, including rehabilitation and assistive devices;
taking urgent action by all stakeholders, including the health sector, to ensure that all development policies benefit people with disabilities;
improving collection and analysis of data on disability and devising ways to use it more effectively to guide development policies and programmes.
Improving access to health care
The more than 1 billion people living worldwide with disabilities all have the same general health needs as non-disabled people - such as immunization, cancer screening and reproductive health services. They may also have specific disability-related health conditions, such as ulcers, urinary tract infections, paralysis and depression associated with spinal cord injury. Many people with disabilities require rehabilitation, such as support to regain strength following hospitalization for diabetic coma or provision of a prosthesis after a limb amputation.
"Too often, people with disabilities face barriers in accessing health and rehabilitation services," says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. "These include stigma and discrimination, lack of accessibility, and the inability to pay. The new UN agreement can help bring down such barriers."
Today, people with disabilities are twice as likely to report that health care providers' skills and facilities do not meet their needs. They are three times more likely to be denied health care and four times more likely to be treated badly in the health care system than people without disabilities.
Half the people living with disabilities worldwide are unable to afford the health care they need. They are 50% more likely than persons without disability to suffer catastrophic health expenditure, which pushes them into poverty.