Over one billion people live with some form of disability and this number is growing as a result of population increase, ageing, and the increasing number of people living with noncommunicable diseases. Everybody is likely to experience disability at some point in their life, especially when getting older.
Persons with disabilities experience significant barriers and are often excluded from accessing and receiving everyday healthcare services. This can be seen in three main areas:
- Access to effective health services: persons with disabilities often experience barriers including physical barriers that prevent access to health facilities; informational barriers that prevent access to health information; and attitudinal barriers leading to discrimination which severely affects the rights of persons with disabilities.
- Protection during health emergencies: persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected by public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic because they have not been considered in national health emergency preparedness and response plans.
- Access to public health interventions across different sectors: public health interventions do not reach persons with disabilities because the information has not been provided in an accessible way and the specific needs and situation of persons with disabilities have not been reflected in the interventions.
Personal stories raise awareness and encourage action through showcasing firsthand experiences. Within this context, WHO and partners teamed up to develop a series of videos to raise awareness about the significant barriers that persons with disabilities experience in accessing healthcare services and health information as well as highlighting the issues they encounter during a health emergency and humanitarian crisis.
The first video features persons with disabilities from India, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia sharing their experiences when accessing healthcare services.
The second video showcases the experiences of persons with disabilities from India, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia when accessing health information and sexual and reproductive health services.
The third video shows issues and challenges faced by persons with intellectual disabilities living in Beirut, Lebanon – a country facing a health emergency and humanitarian crisis. The video includes key recommendations for governments on ways to build healthcare services that are inclusive of persons with disability.
These videos highlight the urgent need for a disability inclusive health sector.