|© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1642/Giacomo Pirozzi|
|Azerbaijan, 2011: Allahshukur Resulov holds his mother’s hand during a physical therapy session at the Mushvig Day Centre for Children with Disabilities.|
All children have the right to health. The rights guaranteed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and all other documents and statements pertaining to the right to health are no less relevant for children with disabilities.
In addition, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) speaks specifically to the right of persons with disabilities to equal access to all health resources.
Promoting equal access to health services
UNICEF’s support to health systems improvements, whether through participation in sectoral strategic planning or more grassroots level efforts, provides a great opportunity for working towards equal access to health services. These opportunities can be used to further promote changes in service delivery so that children with disabilities and their families are assured equal access to services, including to the physical environment, to information and communication, and provided additional services in response to their specific needs. It is imperative that those who work in child health (health care workers at every level, as well as those who work in UN agencies, government ministries and civil society) are equipped with knowledge and awareness of the needs and the possibilities for improving the health of children with disabilities.
Training on disability for health care professionals and public health experts is a critical component in improving inclusive health care delivery and essential in strengthening advocacy in the area of health, Early Childhood Development, immunization and access to reproductive health services. Training content should also include explanation about the correlation between disability and Non-Communicable Diseases; disability and nutrition and disability prevention and immunization.
Improving strategies for early screening, intervention and referral
The global child survival Strategies for early identification and screening are mentioned under the thematic section of Early Childhood Development (ECD)
call to action “A Promise Renewed” aims at accelerating gains in child survival so that all countries reduce child mortality to 20 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births by 2035. In this call it is important to include children with disabilities. Therefore community Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) and related interventions provide useful entry points to strengthen and support families to meet specific needs for care for children with disabilities.
Community health workers and outreach workers of Community Based Rehabilitation programmes can assist in identifying those children who are ‘hidden’ and often denied the full range of services they require. These interventions should also aim to build the responsibility and capacity of communities to assist families in providing support for children with disabilities, including diagnosis and referral, and in acceptance of these children and of their disability as an aspect of human diversity.