Widespread views of being of little economic or social value to society are disabling people with perceived impairments far more than any individual medical issues.
Studies in the UK found that those with mental health issues and learning difficulties are the most disadvantaged in the health system. Those with learning difficulties were not given aid for easily preventable illnesses and were four times more likely to die earlier than other groups. Those with mental health issues die 9-10 years earlier than other groups because of vast inequalities in the delivery of their health provision (2).
Deaf people are often illegally denied Sign Language interpreters in life threatening situations (3). Institutionalised disabled people are consistently denied basic medical provision, often wrongly diagnosed by untrained staff or dismissed as 'making a fuss' (2). Those with physical and sensory impairments find a lack of information in accessible formats and lack of physical access to health centres.
Recent cases at the European Court of Human Rights have highlighted high profile deaths in Romanian and Hungarian institutions due to severe malnutrition (4) and eighty per cent of disabled people live in the so-called developing world, the majority of whom endure impairment or death that is easily preventable.
While governments, journalists and health professionals continue to stay focused on our impairments - the social and economic aspects of our lives continue to be neglected--disabled people die needlessly from social neglect and indifference.
ENIL calls for an understanding of the social model of disability on world health day to ensure that disabled peoples' social, informational, financial and equality needs are recognised by health professionals, governments and public health systems.
(1) Disabled Hit huge Roadblocks in routine health care http://www.huliq.com/17306/disabled-hit-huge-roadblocks-in-routine-health-care
(2) Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap (2006) Disability Rights Commission Report
(3) Social and Attitudinal Barriers preventing Disabled Peoples' Access to Equal Health Care (2008) Jolly, D. and Leicester CIL
(4) Amnesty International
ENIL regional delegate