Disability

                                  Overview

                                  Disability is part of being human. Almost everyone will temporarily or permanently experience disability at some point in their life. Over 1 billion people – about 15% of the global population – currently experience disability, and this number is increasing due in part to population ageing and an increase in the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases. 

                                  Disability results from the interaction between individuals with a health condition, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and depression, with personal and environmental factors including negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social support.

                                  A person’s environment has a huge effect on the experience and extent of disability. Inaccessible environments create barriers that often hinder the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society on an equal basis with others. Progress on improving social participation can be made by addressing these barriers and facilitating persons with disabilities in their day to day lives.

                                   

                                  Inequalities

                                  People with disability experience poorer health outcomes, have less access to education and work opportunities, and are more likely to live in poverty than those without a disability. 

                                  People with disability often do not receive the health care services they need. Evidence shows that half of people with disability cannot afford health care. People with disability are also more than twice as likely to find health care providers' skills inadequate.

                                  While disability correlates with disadvantage, not all people with disabilities are equally disadvantaged. Much depends on the context in which they live and whether they have equal access to health, education and employment, among others. 

                                  Great progress has been made to make the world more accessible for people experiencing disability, but much more work is required to meet their needs. Yet, few countries have adequate mechanisms in place to respond fully to the health priorities and requirements of persons with disabilities.

                                   

                                  WHO response

                                  WHO works to fully integrate and promote disability inclusion in the health sector. It works to ensure people with disability:

                                  • have equitable access to effective health services;
                                  • are included in health emergencies preparedness and responses; and
                                  • can access cross-sectorial public health interventions to achieve the highest attainable standard of health.

                                  WHO has launched its policy on disability and an action plan for its implementation. These documents serve as the agenda for implementing the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy across WHO, which will ensure disability inclusion is consistently and systematically integrated into all aspects of WHO’s operational and programmatic work. WHO is also preparing a Global report on Disability and Health to provide Member States and development partners with updated evidence, analysis and recommendations on how to address disability inclusion in the health sector. The report is expected to be launched in December 2022.

                                  Over 1 billion

                                  People Worldwide

                                  Experience some form of disability

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                                  Half of all people

                                  with a disability

                                  cannot afford health care

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                                  80% of persons

                                  with disability,

                                  live in low- and middle-income countries.

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                                  Events and News

                                  Publications

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                                  WHO Policy on disability

                                  WHO commits, through this policy, to making WHO an organization which is inclusive of people with disability in all their diversity and systematically integrates...

                                  Disability considerations for COVID-19 vaccination: WHO and UNICEF policy brief, 19 April 2021

                                  Persons with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, both directly because of infection, and indirectly because of restrictions to reduce...

                                  Disability considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak

                                  CorrigendumIn March 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, to be a pandemic, due to the...

                                  WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021

                                  The WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021 is a significant step towards achieving health and well-being and human rights for people with disabilities....

                                  Guidance note on disability and emergency risk management for health

                                  The Guidance note on disability and emergency risk management for health is a short, practical guide that covers actions across emergency risk management,...

                                  International perspectives on spinal cord injury

                                  Every year between 250 000 and 500 000 people suffer a spinal cord injury, with road traffic crashes, falls and violence as the three leading causes. People...

                                  World report on disability

                                  The first ever World report on disability, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience...

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