Disability and rehabilitation

WHO's Executive Board issues draft resolution calling for better health care for people with disabilities

At its 132nd session, WHO's Executive Board adopted a draft resolution on disability, to be debated at the World Health Assembly in May this year. The resolution endorses the recommendations of the World report on disability and calls for WHO and Member States to ensure equal access to health services for persons with disabilities.

Across the world, more often than their non-disabled peers, people with disabilities have poorer health and do not receive the care they need. People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to find healthcare provider skills inadequate; nearly three times more likely to be denied care; and four times more likely to be treated badly.

The draft resolution urges States Parties to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, develop plans of action, and ensure that mainstream health services address the needs of people with disabilities. WHO is asked to support Member States to implement the recommendations of the World report on disability and the Convention, as well as ensure that the health needs of children and adults with disabilities are included in WHO's technical work.

The resolution also requests further action on improving disability data, strengthening health systems for the provision of rehabilitation and assistive technologies, and enhancing community-based rehabilitation.

Twenty Member States, some speaking on behalf of regional groupings such as the European Union and the WHO African Region, voiced strong support for the resolution, proposed by Ecuador. Five nongovernmental organizations also backed the draft: CBM, International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Rehabilitation International, World Blind Union and World Federation of Occupational Therapists.

The resolution constitutes an important step in preparations for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development on 23 September.