WHO PRESS RELEASE
Person with Disabilities make up the largest and most disadvantaged minority in the world – nearly 15 percent of the world’s population with many of them living in poverty, face discrimination, and are denied basic opportunities for development.
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons on the 3rd of December was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3 with an aim to promote an understanding of the rights of persons with disabilities, issues related to disability, and importance of inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life. In September 2013, during the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability, before the sixty-seventh session of the UN General assembly, the member states gathered to take decisive action towards a disability-inclusive post-2015 development framework and discussed that exclusion not only impacts the lives of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), but affects the development of communities and society as a whole.
This year, the theme of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology”. Three sub-themes chosen will focus on the importance of technology in Disability-Inclusive Sustainable Development Goals, Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Responses and Creating Enabling Work Environments.
WHO representative Dr Michel Thieren said that the theme of this year will work to harness the power of technology, to promote advantages of using assistive technology and accessible information in ensuring full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and in shaping the future of sustainable development for all.
He further said that Information Communication Technology dramatically changing the way people in many parts of the world live, learn and work, however, not all people benefit from the advances of technology, especially persons with disabilities, because of lack of access to new technologies and its non-affordability. In this regard a programme is being launched by WHO on the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE), in partnership with UN Agencies, international organizations, professional organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities. WHO has committed itself to concrete action to: improve access to health services; strengthen rehabilitation, assistive technology and community-based rehabilitation; and to enhance our practical understanding of disability through strengthened data collection.
Dr Maryam Mallick Technical Advisor WHO said that being the lead agency in disabilities in the UN system, WHO has taken many concrete steps for mainstreaming disability in the developmental process. WHO in collaboration with Government of Pakistan and Disabled People Organizations (DPOs) has formulated the first comprehensive Disability Bill in line with the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). In this regard provincial consultation meetings are being organized with the relevant provincial departments and with all the stake holders. The Bill is in the process of enactment at the federal and provincial Levels.
The WHO is also initiating the pilot disability specific survey “Model Disability Survey” (MDS) in Attock region, on International Standards, with the collaboration of Pakistan Bait ul Mal, which will then be escalated in other parts of the country. Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights in collaboration with WHO is organizing the provincial and federal level workshops for the compilation of Report, to be submitted to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which monitors implementation of the Convention by the States Parties at United Nations,UNCRPD has been ratified by Pakistan as of the 5th July, 2011. WHO in collaboration with Government of Pakistan will soon be launching Urdu version of World Disability Report, Community Based Rehabilitation Guidelines and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).