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World Health Day: Countries making strides in disability rights – and where they need to improve

World Health Day: Countries making strides in disability rights – and where they need to improve

All of us may become disabled at some time in our lives, and yet people with conditions that affect their mobility are still fighting for equality across the world, from making cities wheelchair accessible to having access to basic support.

To mark World Health Day, here are some examples of how countries have improved the lives of their disabled populations – and where they still need to improve.

Thailand – invisible disability

In Thailand, welfare benefits for disabled people are generous and there are care facilities that ensure disabled people that need it have shelter, food and health care support.

However, provision for disabled people hasn’t gone beyond that. Bangkok has an excellent metro and bus system, but neither is wheelchair-accessible.

When you are in Thailand, look around. How many disabled people do you see? Disabled people are being cared for, but infrastructure is not being set up to enable independent living.

Philippines – breakthrough in voting rights

The Philippines, in contrast, is short on financial support for disabled people but it has accessible transport systems that it can be proud of.

ome politicians from the Caribbean nation “view people with disabilities as objects of charity to be given handouts, but not given an equal playing field to succeed,” according to local advocacy worker and teacher Ganesh Singh.

The South American nation passed its first disability bill into law in 2009, which was widely welcomed. However ministers are proving slow to mobilise in registering the country’s Paralympic association with the International Paralympic Committee in time for the continent’s first Games this summer.

Mr Singh, one of a crop of talented blind sprinters hoping to participate, fears he will miss out.

Zimbabwe – prosthetics arrive despite economic hardship 

Prosthetics are reaching the most remote pockets of the world, with local doctors in Zimbabwe among those qualified to perform fittings on those who want and can afford them.

It is expensive though and artificial limbs remain “out of reach” for many in the country.

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