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'The First Ever World Report On Disability'

The recently released WHO-World Bank World 2011 Report on Disability states, 'People with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives. The report provides the best available evidence about what works to overcome barriers to health care, rehabilitation, education, employment, and support services, and to create the environments that will enable people with disabilities to flourish.... 

 In a foreword to the Report, astrophysicist, Professor Stephen Hawking, describes his own motor neurone condition, and assesses the critical impact of this document on societal inclusion for persons with disabilities: 'The Report makes recommendations for action at the local, national, and international levels. It will thus be an invaluable tool for policymakers, researchers, practitioners, advocates, and volunteers involved in disability. It is my hope that beginning with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and now with the publication of the World Report on Disability, this century will make a turning point for inclusion of people with disabilities in the lives of their societies.'

 Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, and Robert Zoellick, World Bank President preface the Report findings and recommendations with a view on the expanding demographic included in the disability domain. They cite both the aging of the world's population and increasing prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases as contributing factors: '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. 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....To achieve the long-lasting, vastly better development prospects that lie at the heart of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and beyond, we must empower people living with disabilities and remove the barriers which prevent them participating in their communities; getting a quality edu­cation, finding decent work, and having their voices heard.'