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1 Billion People Are Living With Disabilities

New Study Shows Many of World's Disabled Face Problems Getting Adequate Health Care

WebMD Health News

June 9, 2011 -- More than 1 billion people in the world are living with some form of disability, and governments everywhere need to beef up efforts to help them, according to a new report.

The report by the World Health Organization and the World Bank says almost 20% of people with disabilities, an estimated 110 million to190 million people, face significant problems that result in health, educational, and other difficulties.

Few countries have adequate mechanisms in place to respond to the needs of these people, who often are victims of stigma and discrimination. Many people with disabilities are poor and have fewer opportunities to improve their financial situations.

"Disability is part of the human condition," Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, says in a news release. "Almost every one of us will be permanently or temporarily disabled at some point in life. We must do more to break the barriers which segregate people with disabilities, in many cases forcing them to the margins of society."

Health Care Challenges

Robert B. Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group, says governments around the globe need to take steps to help people with disabilities "gain equitable access to opportunities to participate and contribute to their communities."

Among the key findings of the report:

  • People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to have health care providers who lack the skills to meet their needs.
  • People with disabilities are almost three times more likely to report being denied health care they need compared to non-disabled people.
  • In low-income countries, people with disabilities are 50% more likely than non-disabled people to experience catastrophic health care expenditures.
  • Children with disabilities are less likely to start school than non-disabled kids. Also, fewer disabled children stay in school than kids who do not live with disabilities.
  • In certain countries the employment rate of people with disabilities is significantly less than people without disabilities.

The report recommends that governments provide people with disabilities access to all mainstream services, invest in specific programs and services for those in need, and adopt national strategies and action plans to assist those with disabilities.

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