The Environment and Public Health Committee of the European Parliament set a number of priorities towards achieving full equality in the healthcare rights of persons with disabilities.
These include the sexual and reproductive health of disabled girls and women, better information and resources on how to avail of specialist care elsewhere in the EU, and eliminating forms of ill-treatment such as the denial of informed consent prior to treatment.
This position was steered by Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, and approved this week, and will inform the work of the Employment and Social Affairs committee prior to a final vote by the full parliament.
Speaking after the committee vote to approve her opinion, Ms. Childers said:
“From all of our citizens’ inherent dignity follows the recognition of the right to equal treatment. In practice, however, about 80 million EU citizens with disabilities face daily difficulties and barriers which deny them the full enjoyment of their rights.
“We live in a world where disabled women or girls are still sterilised or have pregnancies terminated against their will, and are thus denied the right to motherhood, to form a family and, ultimately, the expression and enjoyment of their emotional lives.
“Little wonder that women with disability are exceptionally vulnerable and prone to suffering with mental health problems, along with other groups who face discrimination on more than one front.
“The reported instances of mistreatment or inadequate care in EU countries demonstrate that we need better training for healthcare workers, who lack the sensitivity and the knowledge to respond properly to the specific needs of disabled persons.
“We are talking about difficulties experienced by 15% of our overall population, and many of us will be affected by disability at a given moment in our lives, personally or as carers.
“Better access is an imperative. We have an evolving framework in the EU to pool resources across centres of excellence for rare diseases and I think this can be a good model to improve the care available to disabled persons.
“The European Union’s accession to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in late 2010, was a landmark development, as the first international treaty on human rights fully ratified by the EU. The European Union is in the process of reporting to the United Nations on its progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and must submit its final report by the autumn.