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19 January 2018

Barriers to health care services for people with disabilities

A literature review

Over the past decades, considerable progress has been made in making health care available and affordable, resulting in a decline in child and maternal mortality rates, as well as decreased prevalence of diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Health care needs of individuals are addressed through health promotions, preventative care such as immunization, treatment of illnesses and referral to specialized services where needed (World Bank & WHO 2011). However, notwithstanding these achievements, there are people that have still not seen the benefits of these achievements. Many of these live in Sub Saharan Africa, and many of them are people with disabilities.

Disability and health are quite often interrelated, with disability being associated with a wide range of primary health conditions (World Bank & WHO 2011). Health care necessary for preventing and treating impairments is increasingly available: eye care for those with vision problems, auditory services for those with hearing impairments, and physical rehabilitation services for those with mobility impairments, amongst others. Important as these services are, the fact that people with disabilities are individuals that also need access to general health care – health care not specifically related to their impairment – is quite often forgotten or ignored. As a result, people with disabilities show high rates of not receiving health care services as compared to people without disabilities, and particularly so in low-income countries (World Bank & WHO 2011).

In order to address this unequal access to health care for people with disabilities, a starting point is needed: what then needs to be addressed first to ensure equal access to health services for people with disabilities? Little research has been done on health and persons with disabilities, with the large part of it being focused in high-income countries. With existing research on barriers to health care in low income countries being limited and often small-scale, our goal was to collate all existing information to understand what the current body of knowledge is when it comes to barriers to health care for persons with disabilities in low income countries.

Read the full literature review here.

Baart, J. & Taaka, F. (in press). Barriers to health care services for people with disabilities in developing countries: a literature review. Disability, CBR and Inclusive Development.

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