Championing Community Health Workers for Inclusive Health

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Individuals with intellectual disabilities face significant challenges accessing quality health, including services, resulting in pronounced health disparities and reduced life expectancy. Special Olympics’ Global Health Strategy aims to facilitate the reform health systems around the world to improve access to health for 11 million individuals with intellectual disabilities by 2020.

On 13 March, the Global Inclusive Health Forum at World Games brought together key leaders in all aspects of the health care field. The Forum was held to ensure that public health workers, particularly community health workers, are adequately equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to provide individuals with intellectual disabilities quality health care.

Timothy Shriver and other guests sitting down and applauding in an auditorium.
Dr. Timothy Shriver and other guests applaud the speakers at the Global Inclusive Health Forum. The Global Inclusive Health Forum at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Abu Dhabi. March 13, 2019. Special Olympics World Games, Abu Dhabi, 2019. Photo by: Nancy Donaldson Gauss

Partners, stood and championed how they would work to train 10,000 public health workers from 20 developing nations on providing quality health care to individuals with intellectual disabilities over the next 3-5 years.

During the Forum SO Ambassadors and Olympic athletes Apolo Ohno and Ibtihaj Muhammad voiced their support to Special Olympics’ goal of training 10,000 health workers recognizing the important role that access to quality healthcare has played in them achieving their sporting potential.

Athlete leaders Ian Harper and Brina Maxino made personal commitments to train more athlete leaders and advocate for improved health services in their countries.

Mobile Medic and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies committed to working together to explore how training materials on intellectual disabilities can reach community health workers and other health volunteers.

A commitment was also made by Mr. Khalid Raza of Pakistan who made a personal, financial commitment to support efforts to make the health system in Pakistan more inclusive over the next 4 years.

Winners of the Golisano Global Health Leadership Awards were also recognized during the Forum. The Golisano Global Health Leadership Award is the highest health honor Special Olympics offers. Seven honorees, one from each Special Olympics Region, were recognized for making inclusive health a reality in their communities. Click here to see a video of the work of the Golisano honorees around the world. These winners are key examples of the power community health workers have in their communities and showcase the need to champion more for the future of inclusive health.