In 2014, the WHO’s 67th World Health Assembly adopted a resolution endorsing the “WHO Global Disability Action Plan 2014–2021: Better health for all people with disability”. The WHO believes that this action plan will provide a major boost to WHO and governments’ efforts to enhance the quality of life of the one billion people around the world living with disabilities. At the time, reading this Action Plan gave us some hope that substantial progress would be made by governments and by the WHO on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities* (CRPD), towards ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities (PWD) and full equality under the law. We were hopeful, yet as most action plans and ‘strategic roadmaps’ from WHO usually sound good but don’t change much on the ground, we were also sceptical.
Two years into the Action Plan, the WHO is preparing a progress report for the next World Health Assembly in May 2017, and plan to discuss it at the WHO Executive Board meeting in January. The Action Plan contains sections on the global situation, goals, proposed actions and indicators for governments and partners.
It contains three objectives:
1. To remove barriers and improve access to health services and programmes for people living with disabilities
2. To strengthen and extend rehabilitation, habilitation, assistive technology, assistance and support services, and community-based rehabilitation
3. To strengthen collection of relevant and internationally comparable data on disability and support research on disability and related services
As part of our series of ‘Reality Checks’, we’re seeking inputs from our comrades living with disabilities on how much progress, if any, is being made in our communities. Have you seen or heard of any new or improved programmes? Do you have any evidence of practices that “remove barriers and improve access”? Any sign that public health services are serving you better in the last two years? We want to hear about your experiences and your views on whether or not there has been any progress since 2014.