The Missing Billion – Access To Health Services for 1 Billion People With Disabilities

Publication date 1 July 2019 Category
  • Health Systems
  • Disability
  • Health Outcomes
  • Health Systems
  • Inclusion
  • Rehabilitation
  • Sustainable Development Goal
  • Universal Health Coverage
Publishing organisation International Centre for Evidence in Disability (ICED)

One billion people around the world live with disabilities. This report makes the case that they are being “left behind” in the global community’s work on health. This lack of access not only violates the rights of people with disabilities under international law, but universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goal 3 cannot be attained without better health services for the one billion people with disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, developmental, or sensory impairments. These impairments, in combination with other barriers, may prevent people from participating equally in society. There are one billion people with disabilities worldwide, with the majority living in low- and middle-income countries and the poorest segments of society.
For people with disabilities, health and healthcare are critical issues. People with disabilities frequently require specialised medical care as a result of their underlying health condition or impairment (e.g., physiotherapy, hearing aids). They, like everyone else, require general healthcare services (e.g., vaccinations, antenatal care). People with disabilities are more vulnerable to poor health on average, due to higher levels of poverty and exclusion, as well as secondary conditions and co-morbidities.