The Department of Health (DOH) today reported that it has just released the revised National Policy on Strengthening the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in accordance with the thrusts and goals of Kalusugang Pangkalahatan (Universal Health Care) and the Global Disability Action Plan 2014-2021 released recently by the World Health Organization as the country observes National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week every third week of July.
Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin revealed that PWDs need greater attention and considerations in terms of health needs without discrimination. She added that 80% of the world’s PWDs live in low-income countries, wherein majority are poor and cannot access basic services. In the Philippines, there are about 1.4 million Filipinos of the 92.1 million population (roughly 1.57%) having some form of disability.
The national policy identified three major action areas. These are 1) removal of barriers and improve access to health services and programs 2) strengthening and expansion of rehabilitation, habilitation, assistive technology, and community-based rehabilitation and 3) strengthening collection of relevant and internationally comparable disability data and support disability researches.
Removal of barriers and improving access to health services and programs shall be taken to ensure that PWDs have access to health facilities and services on an equal basis with others. These refer to physical and systemic barriers related to architectural design of healthcare facilities. Other barriers include attitudes of healthcare workers, cost and availability of services, etc.
Strengthening and expansion of rehabilitation, assistive technology, and community-based rehabilitation refers to sets of measures to assist individuals achieve and maintain optimal functioning by making available as close as possible rehabilitation services where PWDs live.
Strengthening collection of relevant and internationally comparable disability data and support researches should ensure that data collected would be internationally comparable and results of researches and studies done are used for informing policy and resources allocation. The use of the Philippine Registry for Persons with Disability is an intervention that shall be strengthened and made fully operational.
Meanwhile, over 1 billion people or approximately 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability. About 110-190 million aged 15 years and older have significant difficulties in functioning. Moreover, the rapid spread of chronic diseases and ageing population also contribute to the increasing rates of disability.
In the Philippines, the 2010 Census of Population and Housing show that the CALABARZON Region has the highest (193,000 individuals) number of PWDs among the 17 regions, while the Cordillera Administrative Region had the lowest number of PWDs (26,000). About 50.9% of the total PWDs in 2010 were males. The 2010 Report further stated that for every 5 PWDs, one was aged 0-14 years, three were in the working age of 15-64 years old, and one aged 65 years and above.[pq]PWDs are an integral part in our country’s development. Let us provide them full and effective participation in our society,[/pq] Garin concluded.
– DOH Philippines