WHO celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Mon 03 Dec 2018 10:16 GMT | 14:16 Local Time

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The 3rd of December is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). On this Day WHO joins partners to celebrate "a day for all".

This theme reflects a growing understanding that disability is part of the human condition. Almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life. Despite this, few countries have adequate mechanisms in place to respond fully to the needs of people with disability, WHO said in its website.

WHO estimates that more than one billion people - about 15% of the world's population - experience some form of disability. This figure is predicted to rise given population ageing and an increase in the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases. While disability correlates with disadvantage, not all people with disability are equally disadvantaged. Much depends on the context in which they live, and whether or not they have equal access to health, education and employment, among others.

"More must be done to break the barriers which segregate people with disability, in many cases forcing them to the margins of society," notes Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. "People with disability are often unable to access either mainstream services or the specialized programmes they need. Unless progress is made on this front, we will fail to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and their ambitious vision to leave no one behind."

In 2018 WHO has made headway on a number of initiatives which further implementation of the recommendations of the landmark World report on disability and the WHO Global Disability Action Plan 2014-2021. WHO also supported nationwide implementation of the Model Disability Survey (MDS) in countries such as such as Costa Rica and implementation of the Brief MDS through the Gallup World Poll in India, Laos and Tajikistan. Survey results from those settings provide policy-makers with the information needed to create positive change, as they have, for example, in Chile, which has revised policies and laws related to mental health, employment and transport based on the MDS findings.

Other recent efforts include conducting a global stakeholder mapping of community-based rehabilitation initiatives around the world and participation in interagency mechanisms seeking to improve the UN’s work on disability and inclusivity. WHO also participated in the Global Disability Summit, hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom together with the Government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance, emphasizing their commitments to the global disability agenda. The purpose of the Summit was to galvanize the global effort to address disability inclusion in the poorest counties of the world.

To celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, colleagues at WHO headquarters will join an event at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 3 December. The event is a photo exhibition called “FifteenPercent,” which aims at portraying the multiple nature and identities of humanity as a celebration of difference and diversity. WHO also will share messages and materials on social media.

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