Ashgabat, December 15, 2011 – Today, the World Health Organization and the World Bank, jointly with the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan held a launch of the World Report on Disability.
The first-ever World Report on Disability provides the first global estimates of persons with disabilities in 40 years and an overview of the status of disability in the world. New research shows that almost one-fifth of the estimated global total of persons living with disabilities, or between 110-190 million, encounter significant difficulties. The report stresses that few countries have adequate mechanisms in place to respond to the needs of people with disabilities. Barriers include stigma and discrimination, lack of adequate health care and rehabilitation services; and inaccessible transport, buildings and information and communication technologies. As a result, people with disabilities experience poorer health, lower educational achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.
The report recommends that governments and their development partners provide people with disabilities access to all mainstream services, invest in specific programs and services for those people with disabilities who are in need, and adopt a national disability strategy and plan of action. In addition, governments should work to increase public awareness and understanding of disability, and support further research and training in the area. Importantly, people with disabilities should be consulted and involved in the design and implementation of these efforts.
“As Central Asian countries grow richer, people will live longer, and disability from chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer will probably grow,” says Mr. Menahem Prywes, Senior Economist, Human Development, World Bank. “This will eventually lead to large costs of medical care and disability pensions. It is recommended to take actions now to prevent disability, through information and education campaigns to reduce smoking and alcohol consumption and to improve diet and increase exercise.”
“The World Health Organization and the World Bank wrote this report not to have it sit on a shelf. I am happy to see that it has generated some positive reaction and that concrete actions are already being undertaken or planned in Turkmenistan,” says Ms. Alana Officer, Coordinator, Disability and Rehabilitation, World Health Organization. “We must build on these to do more to break the barriers that segregate people with disabilities. The first place to start is within mainstream services: health, education…”
The launch was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan, WHO and World Bank local staff and staff from the head-quarters, in-country representatives of UNICEF, UNDP, and UNFPA as well as other ministries, government agency representatives, organizations engaged in activities supporting people with disabilities and others. Dr. Francesco Mitis, WHO Technical Specialist from the Regional Bureau delivered a presentation highlighting the main messages of the report and provided some statistics, while Mr. Menahem Pryves, made some recommendations on measures to assist and engage people with disabilities and described several examples of World Bank-financed projects aimed at supporting people with disabilities. Presentations were also delivered by UNICEF, which focused on children and the medical and social aspects of disability, and by the joint EU/UNDP/OHCHR project, whose representative talked about activities the project is implementing.
Participants of the event also discussed actions, projects and initiatives that could be implemented by the Government and the donor organizations aimed at assisting people with disabilities.
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Turkmenistan signed the Articles of Agreement of the World Bank Group on September 22, 1992. In 1996, the Bank established a Liaison Office in Ashgabat to enhance communications with the government and to provide operational support. Currently, the World Bank Group continues to conduct a dialogue with the Turkmen Government by providing assistance in a number of areas of mutual interest.