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WHO meeting participants want to improve the living conditions of people with disabilities

sosiaali- ja terveysministeriö
Publication date 28.5.2003 5.14
Press release 160/2003

The three-day WHO meeting in Helsinki, Finland, discussed community-based rehabilitation. The meeting ended on Wednesday 28 May. In conclusion the participants appealed to international organisations and governments for a stronger commitment to the implementation of the rights of people with disabilities and for inclusion of people with disabilities in various activities. The meeting was attended by almost 150 participants from all over the world – most of them from developing countries – representing both national authorities and non-governmental organisations. Most of the participants are themselves disabled, and all of them have experience and expertise in rehabilitation and development co-operation

The meeting took a stand for the involvement of people with disabilities

The governments, disability NGOs and international organisations must strongly commit themselves to the implementation of the rights of people with disabilities. For that, specific actions are needed, besides discussions and co-operation. All actors need a clear view of the aim of disability policy. The governments also need understanding and acceptance for the objectives and ways of implementation.

The governments’ national disability policies must be based on the UN Standard Rules and implementation of the human rights. Furthermore, disability policy must be integrated into all areas of life – from that of babies to that of grandparents. There are also distinct linkages between the efforts to combat poverty and those to eliminate the discrimination against women and children. The governments should also ensure that the actions regarding community-based rehabilitation (CBR) are based on a common view shared by the various professional groups involved and on the needs of people with disabilities. The governments should facilitate the participation of various organisations in the actions. The governments are likewise responsible for ensuring that adequate resources are allocated to remedying the situation of different groups of people with disabilities.

National disability organisations have much to give, but they also have their responsibilities and must themselves see to it that people with disabilities are involved and active. The organisations are responsible for seeing to it that attention is paid to issues that are essential from the point of view of people with disabilities. The tasks of international organisations include arranging training, disseminating information and increasing awareness. The international organisations have to extend the disability aspect to all topical international projects. They are also responsible for the development and monitoring of the projects.

Today, developing countries have to cope with considerable challenges in their rehabilitation and disability policies. The view of the WHO is that rehabilitation in the local community, i.e. community-based rehabilitation, is the response to these challenges.

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