Skip to main content

WHO announces Pre-Summit on Disability Inclusion in the Health Sector

Disability inclusion in the health sector is the focus of a thematic Pre-Summit taking place on 12th January 2022, in the build-up to the Global Disability Summit (GDS22) itself on 16-17th February 2022.

  • 6 January 2022
Featured Image

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in collaboration with the governments of Norway and Ghana, as well as the International Disability Alliance (IDA), is convening the virtual event. On announcing the Pre-Summit, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Including the experiences and skills of people living with disabilities in the design and delivery of health systems is fundamental to achieving health for all.” Alongside a number of prominent global figures and leaders, Dr Tedros will be one of the key speakers at the event, which runs from 3-5 pm CET.

Most people with disabilities face barriers which prevent them from receiving the health services they need. They are twice as likely to incur catastrophic healthcare costs, three times more likely to be denied healthcare at all, and four times more likely to be treated incorrectly within their healthcare systems. Less than half of people with disabilities in need of rehabilitation services actually receive them, and only one in ten have access to crucial assistive technology. One in every ten children in the world has a disability.

Given that one billion people globally live with disabilities – that’s 15 percent of the world’s population - the objective of the January 12th, 2022 Pre-Summit is to galvanise crucial recognition from heads of state, government ministers, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society leaders that disability inclusion is absolutely fundamental to the success of achieving health and wellbeing for all.

Disability inclusion in the health sector is particularly important. It helps to achieve national health objectives, more effective health emergency responses, and maximise the impact of public health interventions. Addressing the barriers experienced by people with disabilities in turn contributes to non-discrimination and a people-centered approach. Disability inclusion also requires us to think differently about disability itself, to respect human rights, and to consider the vital contribution of people with disabilities to society.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown more than ever that we are all connected, but it has also highlighted the devastating inequalities faced by people with disabilities. Health for all means that everyone, everywhere, receives the quality health services they need. It is not a matter of choice. It is an imperative.

Now is the time to Commit to Change and make our world more inclusive. Ensure that 2022 is the year in which the voices of people with disabilities are listened to and no longer ignored and that no one gets left behind.

Register your interest at the Pre-Summit at

Raise awareness of the Global Disability Summit 2022 (GDS22) with our Commit to Change toolkit.