World Health Assembly scales up efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities
23 May 2005 - The 58th World Health Assembly approved a resolution on disability that could substantially contribute to improving the lives of some 600 million people with disabilities. In discussions on the resolution, delegates expressed concern about the rapid increase in the number of people with disabilities, 4 of 5 of whom live in low-income countries where poverty limits their access to even the most basic of health services. Delegates discussed the need to prevent disabilities and to ensure the health and rehabilitation needs of people with disabilities and their inclusion and participation in their societies. The Resolution calls upon Member States to strengthen implementation of the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities; promote the rights and dignity of people with disabilities; support community-based rehabilitation; and include a disability component in national health policies and programmes. The availability of rehabilitation services in hospitals and local communities; the provision of assistive devices such as wheelchairs, prosthesis or hearing aids; and access to education and employment are among the measures that governments can take to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Through the resolution the WHO Director-General is requested to support Member States in these efforts and to collect more reliable data on all relevant aspects of disability and support research on the most effective responses. In this regard WHO and its partners, including representatives of disabled people's organizations, have begun a process for development of a World report on disability and rehabilitation to be based on the best available scientific evidence.