Persons with disabilities have the same need to access health services as others, which requires that all mainstream health services must be accessible. Persons with disabilities may also have additional disability-specific needs that require targeted health and rehabilitation programs, including for example the provision and fitting of assistive devices.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises that persons with disabilities have the right to equal access to mainstream health services (Article 25) including health-related rehabilitation programs (Article 26).
However evidence (including that outlined in the World Report on Disability) suggests that persons with disabilities have unequal access to health services and experience poorer levels of health than the general population. In addition, socio-economic factors such as poverty, lower employment and education rates, stigma, social exclusion and lack of social protection further influence health inequality among persons with disabilities.
Donors and development actors must consider the needs of persons with disabilities in efforts toward achieving accessible health infrastructure and communications, health systems strengthening and workforce planning in support of accessible mainstream and targeted health services. A range of inclusive strategies in existing policies, systems and services are needed to close the gap in access to health care between persons with and without disabilities.
Resources in this section include international action plans, policy briefs, guidelines, resource manuals, case studies and research and reviews which can support inclusive health strategies.
See also Assistive Devices, Community Based Rehabilitation, Early Intervention, Children and Youth with Disabilities, Accessible Infrastructure and Communications.