Report: 15 Percent Worldwide Have Disabilities
More than 1 billion people around the world live with disabilities, according to a new report offering the first look in 40 years at the global prevalence of disabilities.
The findings presented Thursday come from a report produced by the World Health Organization and the World Bank. It shows that about 15 percent of the world’s population have disabilities and that number is on the rise due to aging and growth in chronic health conditions.
What’s more, of those living with disabilities, between 110 and 190 million are believed to experience significant functioning difficulties.
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Disabilities are more common in poor countries and among women, older individuals and people living in low-income households, the report found.
“Across the world, people with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities,” leaders of the World Health Organization and the World Bank wrote in a preface to the report. “This is partly because people with disabilities experience barriers in accessing services that many of us have long taken for granted, including health, education, employment and transport as well as information. These difficulties are exacerbated in less advantaged communities.”
The report does not break out developmental disabilities specifically, but gives perspective on the impact of everything from intellectual disability, mental health issues and blindness to conditions like cancer and heart disease.
However, the data indicates that those with physical disabilities are largely faring better than individuals with intellectual impairments in school and work environments.
Few countries have the infrastructure in place to meet the challenges faced by those with disabilities, the report found. In a series of recommendations to governments and other organizations, those behind the research suggest enhancing inclusion to the greatest extent throughout society, among other measures.
“Disability is part of the human condition,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. “We must do more to break the barriers which segregate people with disabilities, in many cases forcing them to the margins of society.”