Violence and Injury Prevention

WHO and partners launch first global report on spinal cord injury

On 3 December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, WHO and partners released International perspectives on spinal cord injury during an event hosted at WHO HQ.

Chaired by Dr Etienne Krug, Director VIP, the launch featured remarks by Professor Jean Jacques Wyndaele, International Spinal Cord Society; a testimony by Mr Shivjeet Singh, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre; and a panel discussion with Mr Peter Woolcott, Ambassador, Australia; Mr Luis Gallegos Chiriboga, Ambassador, Republic of Ecuador; Mr Pedro Comissário, Ambassador, Republic of Mozambique; Dr Jane Horsewell, President, European Spinal Cord Injury Federation; and Ms Petra Schroeter, Director, Handicap International.

Ms Alana Officer, Coordinator DAR, presented the report which highlights that as many as 500 000 people suffer a spinal cord injury each year. People with spinal cord injuries are two to five times more likely to die prematurely, with worse survival rates in low- and middle-income countries.

Spinal cord injury carries substantial individual and societal costs. However, many of the consequences of spinal cord injury result not from the condition itself, but from inadequate medical care and rehabilitation services, and from barriers in the physical, social and policy environments that exclude people with spinal cord injury from participation in their communities.

The report summarizes the best available evidence and suggests measures for improving the survival, health and participation of people with spinal cord injury.

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, WHO HQ also hosted the opening of a photography exhibit by Belinda Mason about disability in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities entitled "Unfinished Business".

Download the report