Disability and rehabilitation

International Day of Disabled Persons

3 December 2005

On 2 December 2005 at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO took the opportunity of the International Day of Disabled Persons to raise awareness about disability and encourage the inclusion of a disability perspective into all areas of WHO's work. The highlight of the day was a lunchtime seminar, opened by Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General, and chaired by Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention. Participants included representatives of international organizations such as the International Labour Office and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as WHO staff. Guest speakers were Mr Fernando Botelho from the International Trade Centre; Dr Tom Shakespeare from the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute in the United Kingdom; and Dr Federico Montero, Coordinator for Disability and Rehabilitation.

In his opening statement Dr LEE noted "The way that a country treats and provides for its disabled citizens is a sure test. It is a far more telling indicator of society's development than GDP." His statement and others recognized the fact that people with disabilities remain marginalized and excluded, and their societies fail to take advantage of their capacities to contribute to economic, political and cultural life. The discussion focused on how best to make positive long-term change. The process of development of a WHO World report on disability and rehabilitation was mentioned as a good opportunity to foster improvements in this area.

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