Over 1 billion people worldwide experience some form of disability, that’s 15 % of the world population. This includes 93 million children and 720 million adults with significant difficulties. (World Health Organisation) Imagine those disabilities in some of the poorest and under developed healthcare systems in the world. Life just got a lot more difficult!
Disability results from the interaction between individuals with a health condition such as cerebral palsy, down syndrome and depression as well as personal and environmental factors including negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social support.
People with disability experience poorer health outcomes, have less access to education and work opportunities, and are more likely to live in poverty than those without a disability.
Very often people with disability do not receive the healthcare services they need. Evidence shows that half of people with disability cannot afford healthcare. People with disability are also more than twice as likely to find healthcare providers’ skills inadequate.
People with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed than those with non-disabilities
People with disabilities have worse living conditions- including insufficient food, poor housing, lack of access to safe water and sanitation. They may also incur extra costs from medical care, assistive devices or personal support
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complicated information and interact with other people.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said that people with a learning disability have a fundamental right to full and active participation and inclusion in society (United Nations, 2006)
However, many still feel socially left out and face stigma and discrimination in their everyday lives (Scior & Werner, 2015).
People with a learning disability may face problems getting equal opportunities for healthcare, housing, education, employment and social pursuits.
There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK.
People with a learning disability have worse health than people without a learning disability and are more likely to experience a number of health conditions
Common associated health conditions for people with a learning disability include mental health problems, epilepsy, and being underweight or overweigh
People with disability encounter a range of barriers when they attempt to access healthcare including the following:
Affordability of health services and transportation are two main reasons why people with disability do not receive much needed healthcare in low-income countries. Just over half of people with disability are unable to afford healthcare compared to about a third of people without disability.
There is a lack of appropriate services for people with disability. Many studies reveal high unmet needs for healthcare among people with disability due to unavailability of services, especially in rural and remote areas.
Uneven access to buildings (hospitals, health centres), inaccessible medical equipment, poor signage, narrow doorways, internal steps, inadequate bathroom facilities, and inaccessible parking areas create barriers to healthcare facilities. For example, women with mobility difficulties are often unable to access breast and cervical cancer screening because examination tables are not height-adjustable and mammography equipment only accommodates women who are able to stand.
People with disability were more than twice as likely to report finding healthcare provider skills inadequate to meet their needs, four times more likely to report being treated badly, and nearly three times more likely to report being denied care.
People with disabilities also face social isolation and marginalisation. There are few specialised rehabilitation services available to children and adults and a general lack of awareness of the rights of children and adults with disabilities.
Physicians Across Continents takes a social and rights-based approach to disability. We focus on removing the barriers to the participation in society by people with disabilities which complements medical care. Our projects provide rehabilitation support as well as advocating a rights-based approach to change practices and challenge public perceptions of disability by empowering people with disabilities to break down the barriers in the communities they live in.
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