Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
In the News

Special Olympics Health Messenger Barbara Njovo Speaks at the World Health Summit in Berlin

Special Olympics Calls for Health Systems That Leave No One Behind
At Special Olympics, we are actively striving to make a positive impact in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities worldwide through global platforms like the World Health Summit 2023. Learn more about our movement and our impact through this video developed with support from "Lever for Change".

Video credit : HauptBruch Film- und Fernsehproduktion GbR

Special Olympics, as part of a disability-inclusive health consortium that included ATScale, the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology, CBM Christian Blind Mission, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and Missing Billion Initiative, made a strong impression at the recent World Health Summit (WHS) held in Berlin earlier this week. One of the world’s premiere global health events, the WHS enjoys high-level attendance—from global health players, like the World Health Organization, to national governments, to civil society.

Special Olympics Zimbabwe Health Messenger Barbara Njovo sits among other speakers at a table.
Special Olympics Zimbabwe Health Messenger Barbara Njovo waits her turn to give remarks in the World Health Summit session “Reimagining Universal Health Coverage to Leave No One Behind: Health Equity for Persons with Disabilities and Access to Assistive Technology as Key Drivers to Achieving UHC.”

Special Olympics Health Messengers Barbara Njovo (Special Olympics Zimbabwe) and David Duncan (Special Olympics Jamaica) were two members of a delegation of seven self-advocates with disabilities, mostly from countries in the southern part of the globe, hosted at the WHS by the disability-inclusive health consortium. Collectively, the delegation raised the considerations and demands of people with disabilities in numerous sessions across the WHS, asking crucial questions about healthcare worker competencies to work with this population, highlighting the importance of a primary healthcare approach to make health service reach people with disabilities, and pointing out the need to consider access to and accessibility of digital health to not leave people behind. The delegation’s presence highlighted the call for “nothing about us without us.”

Special Olympics Jamaica Health Messenger David Duncan stands at a microphone to ask a question.
Special Olympics Jamaica Health Messenger David Duncan asks a panel, including Head of Africa CDC and Head of Mental Health Unit, WHO, about the availability of digital innovations in mental health to LMICs, like those in the Caribbean, and accessibility to those with disabilities.

The consortium also co-hosted a World Health Summit session that spotlighted how disability-inclusive health and access to assistive technology are essential for achieving universal health coverage. During the session, Special Olympics Zimbabwe Health Messenger Barbara Njovo delivered compelling remarks, showcasing positive practices in healthcare accessibility for individuals with disabilities. She shared her vision for improved accessibility, which included advocating for reusable Assisted Medical Treatment Order (AMTO) cards that allow for people with disabilities and the elderly to access care quickly, easily, and at low cost, and training healthcare workers to understand the unique needs of individuals with disabilities. Barbara’s inspiring words underscored the importance of empowering individuals to self-advocate and participate in making their human right to health a reality.

Looking ahead, we are excited to continue our efforts in raising awareness and advocating for disability-inclusive health at next year's WHS. Together, we can amplify our voices and bring about positive change for all individuals, regardless of their abilities.

Members of the delegation of self-advocates with disabilities pose for a photo.
Members of the delegation of self-advocates with disabilities, including Special Olympics Health Messengers Barbara Njovo (Zimbabwe) and David Duncan (Jamaica), pose with allies at the World Health Summit.
A photo of a large screen with social post.
The World Health Summit session co-hosted by Special Olympics was highlighted at the WHS venue.


Health Messengers

The only way to end exclusion is to have people who face these challenges daily help create the solution.
1 Min Read

Special Olympics Athlete Leader and Health Messenger, Shanaia Xuereb, Shares Her Experiences at this Year’s World Games Berlin 2023

In this week’s episode, Josh and Novie spoke with Special Olympics Malta Athlete Leader and Health Messenger, Shanaia Xuereb, about her time at this year’s World Games Berlin 2023.
1 Min Read

Special Olympics Supports Recommendations of WHO Report on Health Equity for Persons with Disabilities

Recent WHO report shows that while some progress has been made in recent years, the world is still far from realizing the health rights for many persons with intellectual disabilities. Read more about the Special Olympics contributions to the recommendations of the report.
1 Min Read