Disabilities and rehabilitation

New WHO report: spinal cord injury is preventable, survivable, and need not preclude good health and social inclusion

As many as 500 000 people suffer a spinal cord injury each year. People with spinal cord injuries are two to five times more likely to die prematurely, with worse survival rates in low- and middle-income countries. Spinal cord injury carries substantial individual and societal costs. However, many of the consequences of spinal cord injury result not from the condition itself, but from inadequate medical care and rehabilitation services, and from barriers in the physical, social and policy environments that exclude people with spinal cord injury from participation in their communities. International perspectives on spinal cord injury summarizes the best available evidence and suggests measures for improving the survival, health and participation of people with spinal cord injury.

Wheelchair Service Training Package - Intermediate Level now available

Following the release of the Wheelchair Service Training Package - Basic Level in July 2012, WHO has developed the Wheelchair Service Training Package - Intermediate Level, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The second part of the WHO wheelchair service training package series focuses on addressing the needs of people who have severe difficulties in walking and moving around and poor postural control. Special attention is given to the provision of appropriate wheelchairs for children who have poor postural control and are unable to sit upright independently.

WHO and partners launch Guidance note on disability and emergency risk management for health


People with disabilities are disproportionately affected in emergencies and experience particularly high rates of mortality in these contexts. To mark International Day for Disaster Reduction 2013, CBM, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the WHO released a guidance note to highlight the needs of people with disabilities before, during and after emergencies.

Governments to agree increased focus on people with disabilities in development strategies

The World Health Organization welcomes the forthcoming agreement at a High-Level Meeting at the United Nations General Assembly which will further improve access to health care and related services for people with disabilities and ensure that they are able to contribute to the sustainable development of their communities. “Too often, people with disabilities face barriers in accessing health and rehabilitation services,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “These include stigma and discrimination, lack of accessibility, and the inability to pay. The new UN agreement can help bring down such barriers.”

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