2018 Theme: Empowering persons with disabilities, ensuring inclusiveness and equality
This year’s theme focuses on empowering persons with disabilities for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”. Persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change, can fast track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development and promote resilient society for all, including in the context of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action, and urban development. Governments, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, academic institutions and the private sector need to work as a “team” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This year, the UN Secretary-General will launch on the Day a flagship report, entitled “UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development | 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities”. Events at UNHQ on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at UN Headquarters will bring together Member States, UN entities, Mayors, national and local policy makers, civil society organizations, academic institutes and organizations of persons with disabilities to discuss the way forward for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.
However, The global observance, promoted by the United Nations since 1992, aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability as well as celebrate their achievements and contributions. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’.
According to the UN, this year’s theme focuses on empowering people with disabilities for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. WHO data shows that more than a billion people, about 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Also, the rates of people with disabilities are increasing mainly due to population ageing and a rise in chronic health conditions, among other causes. Moreover, people with disabilities are more likely to report less access to adequate health care compared to people without disabilities. Take a look at how the lives of people with disabilities are affected.
Secondary conditions: Studies have shown that people with disabilities often have a greater risk for secondary conditions, a range of complications that occur as a result of paralysis. These health problems – such as pressure sores or ulcers, urinary tract infections, osteoporosis and pain – are preventable.
Co-morbid conditions: People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to co-morbid conditions that occur in addition to (and are unrelated to) a primary health condition associated with disability. For instance, the prevalence of diabetes in people with schizophrenia is around 15% compared to the general population with a rate of 2-3%.
Age-related conditions: The problem is that the ageing process for some groups of people with disabilities starts earlier than usual. For example, findings published in the journal Aging Cell showed that the inner workings of people with Down syndrome were found to age much faster than typically-developing individuals. Also, some people with developmental disabilities develop signs of premature ageing in their 40s and 50s.
Higher rates of premature death: While the mortality rates for people with disabilities vary depending on their health condition, research has found that individuals with mental health disorders and intellectual impairments had a lower life expectancy than people without disabilities. Moreover, people with disabilities also report higher rates of stress and depression.
Engaging in risky behaviours: Some studies have found that people with disabilities have higher rates when it comes to indulging in risky behaviours such as smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity.
The bottom line is that the governments can improve health outcomes for people with disabilities. This includes improving access to quality, affordable health care services that will help them stay well, active, and be a part of the community.