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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

This coming Saturday the 3rd of December is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Unfortunately, there are many people who have disabilities and very often they are stigmatized and even abused. Therefore, this week we wish to unpack and understand what are disabilities, its various types, and certainly highlight the importance of how we treat people with disabilities.

What is a disability?

A disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).

Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, this is actually a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. Two people with the same type of disability can be affected in very different ways. Some disabilities may be hidden or not easy to see.

Over 1 billion people are estimated to experience disability. This corresponds to about 15% of the world’s population, with up to 190 million (3.8%) people aged 15 years and older having significant difficulties in functioning, often requiring health care services. The number of people experiencing disability is increasing due to a rise in chronic health conditions and population ageing. Disability is a human rights issue, with people with disability being subject to multiple violations of their rights, including acts of violence, abuse, prejudice and disrespect because of their disability, which intersects with other forms of discrimination based on age and gender, among other factors. People with disability also face barriers, stigmatization and discrimination when accessing health and health-related services and strategies. Disability is a development priority because of its higher prevalence in lower-income countries and because disability and poverty reinforce and perpetuate one another.

Disability is extremely diverse. While some health conditions associated with disability result in poor health and extensive health care needs, others do not. However, all people with disability have the same general health care needs as everyone else, and therefore need access to mainstream health care services.

Key facts

Over 1 billion people live with some form of disability.

The number of people with disability are dramatically increasing. This is due to demographic trends and increases in chronic health conditions, among other causes.

Almost everyone is likely to experience some form of disability – temporary or permanent – at some point in life.

When people with disability access health care, they often experience stigma and discrimination, and receive poor quality services.

There is an urgent need to scale up disability inclusion in all levels of the health system, particularly primary health care.

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