International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD) was established by the United Nations in 1992. Each year this is held on 3rd December and represents the actions we should be taking every day to ensure that we create diverse and accepting communities.
The WHO World Report on Disability states that there are more than 1 billion people, which equates to 15 per cent of the world’s population, who are living with some form of disability. Of this number, it is estimated 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition. Two-thirds of these people will sadly not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and neglect.
The number of people with disabilities is growing. This is because populations are ageing – older people have a higher risk of disability – and because of the global increase in chronic health conditions associated with disability.
The aim of IDPWD is as follows:
Celebration – regardless of our differing abilities, we should appreciate the diversity of our global community
Learning – those living with disabilities should help us to understand and learn about the challenges faced every day
Optimism – we should look forward to the day when people are characterised by their abilities, rather than their disabilities
Action – we should all support this day and commit to creating a world characterised by equal human rights
The theme for IDPWD this year is “Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.” The aim of this theme is to celebrate the challenges, barriers and opportunities for people who live with disabilities, in the context of a global pandemic.
Since March 2020, there has been a worldwide impact from drastic political, social and economic change due to the domestic and international responses to COVID-19.
This year, International Day of People with Disabilities should be used to recognise those living with disabilities are among the most affected populations amid the COVID pandemic. Where marginalisation, discrimination, vulnerability and exploitation are every day factors for many people, the increased risk of poor outcomes have been magnified with the reduced access to routine health care and rehabilitation services, more pronounced social isolation, poorly tailored public health messaging, inadequately constructed mental health services, and a lack of emergency preparedness for people with special needs.