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WHO, Paralympics panel sign pact to work to foster diversity and equity

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: WHO/Jean Germain

Tokyo, July 22 (MNN) The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Thursday signed an agreement to work together to foster diversity and equity through global initiatives promoting health and sport for everybody, everywhere.

The two partners will collaborate to improve global access to quality rehabilitation and assistive technology as part of universal health coverage; and mitigate existing inequalities in relation to access to these life-changing services — a prerequisite for equal opportunities and participation in sports for persons with disabilities, including for Paralympians and Para athletes.

“Sport and health are natural allies, with mutually reinforcing benefits,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“More than that, the Paralympic Games are an inspiring statement of what persons with disabilities can achieve. We hope this partnership between WHO and IPC will provide a platform for more persons with disabilities to participate in sport, but also for demonstrating why universal health coverage is so important, by ensuring all persons have the care and technologies they need to fulfil their potential.”

IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “This new partnership is one that will greatly benefit society, as sport is a tremendous tool for ensuring persons lead active and healthy lifestyles. The IPC’s partnership with the WHO goes beyond promoting physical and healthy lifestyles and will also focus on highlighting the role assistive technology plays in the creation of an inclusive world, especially for the over 1 billion persons with disabilities.”

Parsons and Tedros signed the MOU in Tokyo. The Paralympic Games will begin on August 24 and conclude on September 5.

Disability is a global public health issue but with a higher prevalence in lower-income countries with even less access to health care and assistive technology.

The WHO estimates about 15 per cent of the world’s population live with a disability – and this number is growing due to demographic changes including population ageing and the global increase in chronic health conditions.

Only 1 in 2 persons with disabilities can afford health care, including rehabilitation services; and 1 in 10 have access to life-changing assistive technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed persons with disabilities to increased risks of contracting COVID-19 and having poorer health, as health information and care have not been provided in ways easily accessible to them.

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