On the 3rd of December every year, the world observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day aims to promote better understanding of issues faced by people with disabilities, and to mobilize support for their dignity, rights and well-being. This year’s theme “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world” calls for actions to tackle challenges affecting the lives of persons with disabilities through innovation and technology solutions for inclusive development.
Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of ill health and suffering globally, and people with TB often suffer various forms of impairment and disability because of the disease. Furthermore, people with disabilities often face challenges in accessing health services, including services for the prevention and treatment of TB. This has particularly severe socioeconomic implications, considering that TB primarily affects people and communities that are already vulnerable. This makes it critical to address disability as part of interventions for people with TB, as well as to facilitate access to TB services for all people with disabilities.
“Comprehensive and people-centred health services for people with disabilities are critical to the achievement of universal health coverage”, said the Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme, Dr Tereza Kasaeva. “TB primarily affects those who are already vulnerable in society, and those who access treatment late are more likely to have poor outcomes, including long term impairment and disability. It is therefore important to ensure early diagnosis and appropriate treatment for all people with TB, and to facilitate access to people-centred TB services for people with disabilities”.
WHO is supporting countries in establishing clear policies and strategies based on the latest guidelines and evidence, to enable access to people-centred services for all people with TB, including to prevent and manage TB-associated impairment and disability. WHO’s Guidance for National Strategic Planning for TB and the Multisectoral Accountability Framework for TB promotes inclusive planning and implementation of TB services, and representation of various affected communities including people with TB-associated impairment and disabilities, in the design and implementation of strategies to end TB. The engagement of people with TB-associated disability, as well as people with disabilities in the multisectoral response to end TB will be critical to help overcome several barriers faced by this community, including stigma and discrimination, leveraging the use of innovative solutions such as digital health.
WHO’s Global TB Programme is working closely with a range of stakeholders, civil society, and national TB programmes to strengthen the multisectoral response to TB. "Engagement and inclusion of persons with disabilities, including those with TB-associated disabilities in the decision-making, planning and implementation of TB programmes are key to work together in designing innovative solutions to better address their needs, reduce barriers, and eliminate discrimination”, noted Evaline Kibuchi, Member of WHO Civil Society Task Force on TB.
Source: World Health Organization