Disability and rehabilitation

66th World Health Assembly adopts resolution calling for better health care for people with disabilities

The 66th World Health Assembly adopted yesterday a resolution recalling the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and endorsing the recommendations of the 2011 World report on disability.

The resolution urges Member States to implement as States Parties the Convention; develop national action plans; and improve data collection. Member States are encouraged to ensure that all mainstream health services are inclusive of people with disabilities; provide more support to informal caregivers; and ensure that people with disabilities have access to services that help them acquire or restore skills and functional abilities as early as possible.

The resolution also requests the WHO Director-General to provide support to Member States in implementing the recommendations of the World report on disability; mainstream the health needs of children and adults with disabilities in WHO's technical work; and ensure that WHO itself is inclusive of people with disabilities. It also calls on WHO to support the United Nations General Assembly's High-level Meeting on Disability and Development (23 September 2013) and prepare a comprehensive WHO action plan with measurable outcomes for next year's World Health Assembly.

Twenty-seven Member States, some speaking on behalf of regional groupings such as the WHO African Region and the WHO South-East Asian Region, voiced strong support for the resolution, proposed by the Government of Ecuador. Seven nongovernmental organizations also expressed their support of the resolution, including CBM, International Federation of Medical Students' Associations, International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Rehabilitation International, World Blind Union, and World Confederation for Physical Therapy.

Across the world, more often than their non-disabled peers, people with disabilities do not receive the health care they need and have poorer health. People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to find healthcare providers' skills and facilities inadequate; nearly three times more likely to be denied health care; and four times more likely to be treated badly. The resolution, the first adopted by the World Health Assembly on disability since 2005, seeks to address these disparities.