Persons with disabilities have the right to the highest attainable standard of health as those without disabilities. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Report on Health Equity for Persons with Disabilities demonstrates that while some progress has been made in recent years, the world is still far from realizing this right for many persons with disabilities who continue to die earlier, have poorer health, and experience more limitations in everyday functioning than others.
Working with over three million athletes with intellectual disabilities around the world, Special Olympics provided recommendations on the WHO report. Special Olympics also works on implementing several recommended actions, and its 2021 – 2026 strategy outlines a PATH to health equity through:
- Preventive care that includes programing around early childhood development, fitness, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and family health education.
- Assessment and care coordination that includes free Healthy Athletes screenings, follow up care, and data collection.
- Training of healthcare providers and health students.
- Health systems change to promote access and equity.
Urgent action is needed. Special Olympics supports the recommendations of WHO and will work tirelessly to ensure that health equity for persons with intellectual disabilities is realized.