Disability and rehabilitation

Statements on the International perspectives on spinal cord injury

Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General

Spinal cord injury is particularly devastating, for two reasons. It often strikes out of the blue and the consequences are commonly either premature mortality or at best social exclusion. None of these devastating outcomes is necessary. The message of this report is that spinal cord injury is preventable; that spinal cord injury is survivable; and that spinal cord injury need not prevent good quality of life and full contribution to society. This report has potential to change lives and open doors. I urge the world’s policy-makers to pay attention to its findings.

Shuaib Chalken, UN Special Rapporteur on Disability

Spinal cord injury need not be a death sentence. But this requires e¬ffective emergency response and proper rehabilitation services, which are currently not available to the majority of people in the world. Once we have ensured survival, then the next step is to promote the human rights of people with spinal cord injury, alongside other persons with disabilities. All this is as much about awareness as it is about resources. I welcome this important report, because it will contribute to improved understanding and therefore better practice.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paralympic medallist and Member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom

Spina bifida is no obstacle to a full and useful life. I’ve been a Paralympic champion, a wife, a mother, a broadcaster and a member of the upper house of the British Parliament. It’s taken grit and dedication, but I’m certainly not superhuman. All of this was only made possible because I could rely on good healthcare, inclusive education, appropriate wheelchairs, an accessible environment, and proper welfare benefits. I hope that policy-makers everywhere will read this report, understand how to tackle the challenge of spinal cord injury, and take the necessary actions.

Lenín Moreno, Former Vice-President of the Republic of Ecuador

Disability is not incapability, it is part of the marvelous diversity we are surrounded by. We need to understand that persons with disability do not want charity, but opportunities. Charity involves the presence of an inferior and a superior who, ‘generously’, gives what he does not need, while solidarity is given between equals, in a horizontal way among human beings who are different, but equal in their rights. We need to eliminate the barriers, construct a way to liberty: the liberty of being different. This is true inclusion.