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Critical concerns raised on access to healthcare for persons with disabilities in the EU


Friday 8 Sep 2017

Yesterday, I spoke on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy from a health perspective.

Back in 2010, the European Commission committed to ensure that products and services would become more accessible; building on the obligations established by the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

It saddens me to say that there is still a long way to go before we can claim any success in this field.

A year ago, I worked on feeding some critical feedback on the concluding observations of the CRPD and I am afraid to say that the concerns I expressed then, have to be reiterated today.

Disability remains closely associated with both ill-health and inadequate healthcare responses.

Most of us agree that access to affordable, quality healthcare is a matter of human rights, and so is protection from discrimination. Yet, examples of inadequate and underfunded health care services lead to poor outcomes for patients as well as deteriorating conditions. Furthermore, very few citizens avail of cross-border health care rights due to lack of information.

Therefore, as it is a matter of human rights, we cannot see these examples as anything else other than a gross breach human rights.

In the European Union, many tens of millions of citizens continue to face difficulties and barriers to the full enjoyment of their rights.

In particular, women with disabilities report seriously high levels of ill-health, and the female population suffers from mental illnesses at a rate above the average, which becomes all the more critical amongst migrant groups.

Ill-health may be an inherent challenge for some, but it need not stem from a lacking provision of quality services, which is not a fact of life but is only determined by our choice of priorities as a society.

This is where the change needs to happen.