Health

Persons with disabilities have the same need to access health services as others, which requires that all mainstream health services must be accessible. Persons with disabilities may also have additional disability-specific needs that require targeted health and rehabilitation programs, including for example the provision and fitting of assistive devices.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises that persons with disabilities have the right to equal access to mainstream health services (Article 25) including health-related rehabilitation programs (Article 26).

However evidence (including that outlined in the World Report on Disability) suggests that persons with disabilities have unequal access to health services and experience poorer levels of health than the general population. In addition, socio-economic factors such as poverty, lower employment and education rates, stigma, social exclusion and lack of social protection further influence health inequality among persons with disabilities.

Donors and development actors must consider the needs of persons with disabilities in efforts toward achieving accessible health infrastructure and communications, health systems strengthening and workforce planning in support of accessible mainstream and targeted health services. A range of inclusive strategies in existing policies, systems and services are needed to close the gap in access to health care between persons with and without disabilities.

Resources in this section include international action plans, policy briefs, guidelines, resource manuals, case studies and research and reviews which can support inclusive health strategies.

See also Assistive Devices, Community Based Rehabilitation, Early Intervention, Children and Youth with Disabilities, Accessible Infrastructure and Communications.

UN Dept of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Div for Social Policy & Development (DSPD) (2016) Toolkit on Disability for Africa: Inclusive health services for persons with disabilities HTML with link to PDF (PDF4.00MB)

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) created a Toolkit on Disability for Africa in 2016. Whilst this toolkit is designed to inform trainings and specifically targets African countries, the information within the Disability Inclusive Health Module is universal and helpful in determining strategic directions in the design of disability inclusive health systems. The module gives a succinct summary informed by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, outlining the barriers to health for people with disabilities in low and middle income countries and practical strategies to build disability inclusive health systems. This concise resource is helpful in program design and training. It is one of few resources that appropriately address the need for disability inclusion within mainstream health services as well as the need for access to specialised health services using a rights based approach.

World Health Organisation (2010) Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Guidelines: Health component PDF 3.82MB

The health component of the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Guidelines provides guidance on how health systems and services can be shaped to promote the health of people with disabilities across five key areas of health promotion, prevention, medical care, rehabilitation and assistive devices. These guidelines provide advice on how CBR programs can work closely with the health sector and individuals and families to ensure access to health services for people with disabilities. Barriers to health and inclusive health strategies are discussed as well as case studies within each of the five key areas from a range of regions.

World Health Organization and World Bank (2011) World Report on Disability (PDF 10.4 MB) Also available in French, Portuguese and Spanish

The World Report on Disability presents the best available evidence in relation to the situation of persons with disabilities globally. Chapter 3 of this report addresses issues around barriers faced by persons with disabilities in accessing general health care and Chapter 4 addresses issues relating to rehabilitation. These chapters, read in conjunction with the recommendations set out in Chapter 9 will provide a basis for policy and programming responses on disability inclusive health care. The report is also useful in showing how multi-sectoral approaches are needed for effective outcomes.

CBM Australia (2013) End the Cycle Indepth: Healthcare

This 2 minute video, presented by Australian paralympian, Grant “Scooter” Patterson, provides a high level overview of the need for disability inclusive healthcare. It outlines the various barriers to healthcare faced by persons with disabilities, and the social and economic impacts this can have. It calls for persons with disabilities to be involved in designing appropriate health services.

Bearman, F. & Gleave, R. (2018) Severe malaria case fatality reduced by 96 per cent in pilot program in Zambia led by Transaid, MMV and partners Webpage

A partnership between Transaid, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and other consortium partners completed a 12 month malaria project in Serenje district in Zambia. Child fatality reduced from 8% to 0.25% - 3 recorded deaths to the 97 expected deaths during this time period. A two-pronged approach was used: 1) rapid analysis by field health care workers who could identify and treat children with malaria, and 2) communities were equipped with specially designed bicycle ambulances with a flat, bed-like cart that tows the child to speed up the journey to hospital.

Washington Group on Disability Statistics technical presentation

Jennifer H. Madans Ph.D., Associate Director for Science, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Mitchell Loeb,
Health Scientist, NCHS from the secretariat of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics delivered a technical session
on how to use the Washington Group questions in monitoring data systems and how to disaggregate data by disability
followed by a question and answer session at the University of Melbourne on Thursday, 30 April 2015. The presentation
was organised by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Presentation from the Washington Group on Disability Statistics
Picture of two smiling young men. One, who uses a walking stick , has his arm around his friend. His friend has no arms.

Photo: Tamara Jolly, 2009

Tanish* and Aeshan* are close friends who live in India. After some initial training, they now help train community health staff at the Uttarakhand Cluster training program on strategies to include those with disability in health programs. (*pseudonyms used) Copyright: Community Health Global Network Uttarakhand Cluster