Disability and rehabilitation

WHO Executive Board submits draft WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021: Better health for all people with disabilities to the 67th World Health Assembly

At the 134th session of WHO Executive Board, 20 Member States - some speaking on behalf of regional groupings such as the WHO African Region, WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region and Union of South American Nations - voiced strong support for the draft WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021.

Member States stressed that disability is an important issue that requires further action. The draft plan was judged to be clear, comprehensive and measurable, while the consultation process for its development was commended for its efficiency, transparency and inclusiveness.

Four nongovernmental organizations also backed the plan: CBM; International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine; Rehabilitation International; and World Federation of Occupational Therapists.

The 66th World Health Assembly held in May 2013 had adopted a resolution calling for better health care for people with disabilities and requesting the WHO Director-General to prepare a comprehensive WHO action plan in consultation with United Nations organizations and Member States. The plan was to be based on the recommendations of the World report on disability and in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The draft action plan has the following three objectives:

  • to remove barriers and improve access to health services and programmes;
  • to strengthen and extend rehabilitation, habilitation, assistive technology, assistance and support services, and community-based rehabilitation;
  • to enhance collection of relevant and internationally comparable data on disability and support research on disability and related services.

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 WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021 seeks to address these disparities.

The plan will be discussed at the 67th World Health Assembly in May 2014.