Disabilities and rehabilitation

Update from the WHO Task Force on Disability, December 2009

The WHO Task Force on Disability was created by the WHO Director-General, with the aim of removing barriers to the participation of people with disabilities in the work of WHO, and mainstreaming disability across the Organization. A report from the Task Force on its first year of work has been submitted to the Director-General. It notes the following:

  • Good progress has been achieved in making WHO more accessible to people with disabilities, for example, in auditing WHO premises to improve access to WHO buildings and developing policies and practices to improve access to WHO information.
  • Awareness of the Task Force and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is growing, thanks to advocacy within WHO and a successful series of Task Force seminars for staff.
  • The WHO Human Resource Management Department has developed a draft policy on disability and employment and staff are actively addressing barriers to recruitment.
  • In the WHO Regional Offices, for example in the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia, staff are making good progress on removing barriers to WHO buildings and employment, raising awareness and mainstreaming disability across programmes.

Encouragingly, a number of WHO technical departments are continuing to mainstream disability in their work:

  • the WHO Prevention of Violence team has commissioned a systematic review of research on violence against people with disabilities;
  • the Health Action in Crisis cluster is working with the non-governmental organization CBM to develop resources for addressing the needs of people with disabilities in emergencies;
  • the WHO Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion department has included a disability stream in their forthcoming conference on young people and obesity;
  • the WHO Reproductive Health and Research department is proactively including disability in various facets of its work.

The next step for the WHO Task Force on Disability is a survey of all the departments at WHO headquarters, in order to identify the opportunities for further mainstreaming, and highlight needs for training and other support.

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