New government strategy to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind

04 Dec 2018
New government strategy to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind

Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) welcomes the news that the Department for International Development (DFID) has published the first ever disability inclusion strategy setting out how it will put disability at the heart of international development.

Meningitis and septicaemia/sepsis are deadly diseases that strike without warning. Survivors can be left with a range of life altering after-effects, some as serious as brain injury or limb loss.

On average, 23% of survivors of bacterial meningitis experience one or more after-effects, with 16% experiencing a major impairment. There is a higher risk of after-effects for survivors in low-income countries. Losing a loved one to the disease can also impact on mental health.

DFID state that 15% of people around the world have a disability and that they often face discrimination and exclusion from things that other people take for granted.

“It’s encouraging to see that the strategy focuses not just on physical impairments, but also on mental health and psychosocial disability as well." Vinny Smith, MRF

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive at MRF said, “We welcome DFID’s strategy for disability inclusive development. It’s encouraging to see that the strategy focuses not just on physical impairments, but also on mental health and psychosocial disability as well.

“This year we joined the World Health Organization’s new expert taskforce to defeat meningitis by 2030. It’s excellent that DFID’s strategy wants to see support services available to people for the full range of health outcomes that meningitis can lead to, and acknowledges that more can be done through the work of DFID and its partners to ensure that people with disabilities are able to assert their rights to access services, including quality healthcare, and to participate fully and meaningfully in society. This will be one of our calls as we move forward with the global plan.”

As a charity with evidence at its core, MRF particularly welcomes DFID’s recognition of the need for better data in order to ensure that disability inclusive development programming can be evidence-based and progress can be measured.

Another important focus of the strategy is the need for global pushes on Universal Health Coverage to ensure that everyone is reached and can access services without financial hardship. Equitable access to quality healthcare for people with disabilities is crucial. This includes services that everyone requires in addition to the specific support services that disability-related health needs necessitate.

In MRF’s experience, those with intellectual disability (disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behaviour), as well as physical disabilities experience difficulty accessing support services. The DFID strategy provides a new tool to monitor progress in some areas and campaign for change where there are gaps.

Read the full report here.

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