Special Olympics Belgium takes action for improved health services

Female speaker with a microphone presents powerpoint presentation at the top of a room.
Special Olympics Belgium Clinical Director for Fit Feet, Carine Haemels, presents Fit Feet screening results, highlighting health disparities between people with Intellectual Disabilities and other parts of the population.

Special Olympics Belgium recently organised a high-level Health Summit calling for immediate action to improve health services for all people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in Belgium. The summit was hosted by CEO of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI) in Belgium, Jo de Cock, and President of Special Olympics Belgium, Piet Steel. Among the participants were representatives from the National Ministry of Health and from leading medical and paramedical health providers in Belgium, as well Special Olympics Healthy Athletes (HA) Clinical Directors. The Clinical Directors provided an overview of health outcomes collected through the HA programme in Belgium. They demonstrated the health disparities that Special Olympics athletes face and also discussed actions that need to be taken to improve health services for people with ID.

“What I learned today is a wake-up call”

The main outcomes of the summit were formalised in an action plan which includes: prevention and awareness campaigns, further research on barriers to quality health services for people with ID; improved training and education for health care professionals and students; an inclusive health approach; addition financial support for doctors and health professionals who provide health services to people with ID and interdisciplinary exchange between all medical areas. Following the presentation, Jo de Cock, CEO of NIHDI in Belgium, noted, “What I learned today is a wake-up call and an urgent call for action”.

Special Olympics Belgium is now accepted as an important interlocutor in Belgium for all matters related to health and people with ID. I think today’s event was excellent for three reasons: the high-level participation, the intensity of the discussions and the logistical organisation of the event.
President of Special Olympics Belgium, Piet Steel

“We made a huge step forward today”

Zehra Sayin, CEO of Special Olympics Belgium concluded, “We are very happy with the outcome and results of the first Health Summit which we organised in cooperation with NIHDI. We made a huge step forward in better health care for people with ID in Belgium. Health is one of the four pillars of our organisation and will remain very important in the future. In 2019 we will further work on the next steps following this Summit together with all our partners and allies.”