Around 15% of the world’s population, or one billion people, live with disabilities. And the rates of disability are increasing due to population ageing and increases in chronic health conditions. People with disabilities have less access to health care services and therefore experience unmet health care need. However, financing more in rehabilitation services and timely intervention can prevent many these disabilities and thus save huge money that lost in care.
People with disabilities report seeking more health care than people without disabilities and have greater unmet needs.
Health promotion and prevention activities seldom target people with disabilities. For example women with disabilities receive less screening for breast and cervical cancer than women without disabilities. People with intellectual impairments and diabetes are less likely to have their weight checked. Adolescents and adults with disabilities are more likely to be excluded from sex education programmes.
In order to mobilise support for people with disabilities and increase understanding of disability issues, International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed on 3rd December. Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all is the theme for this year.
Governments can improve health outcomes for people with disabilities by improving access to quality, affordable health care services, which make the best use of available resources. As several factors including interact to inhibit access to health care, reforms in all the interacting components that include Policy and legislation, financing, service delivery, human resources, data and research are required.
The recent world report on disability provides recommendations on ways to improve access health services, such as establishing health care standards for people with disabilities, and strategies to address financial barriers. It says that relatively small investment required for rehabilitation has enormous benefits in enabling people with disability to attain their fullest potential in terms of independence and participation. It also suggests using alternative models of service delivery, such as telemedicine and mobile clinic services.
To achieve the long-lasting, vastly better development prospects that lie at the heart of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and beyond, we must empower people living with disabilities and remove the barriers which prevent them participating in their communities; getting a quality education, finding decent work, and having their voices heard.
We all should work together to create an inclusive world where we are all able to live a life of health, comfort, and dignity.