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3 December marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization is joining with other United Nations agencies and civil society organizations to celebrate "a day for all", in order to highlight how far we have come in recognizing people with disabilities. This day will celebrate the diversity of our communities and show support for a society that embraces diversity in all its forms. The theme for this year's International Day is "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all".

It is estimated that 15% of population, about one billion people worldwide, live with a disability. In the Americas, about 140 million people live with any type of disability. People with disabilities face barriers to inclusion in all aspects of life: education, employment, social and political life and health. As a result, many persons with disabilities do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis with others. Sometimes, stigma and discrimination are the greatest barrier to the full and equal participation of people with disabilities, including the access to health services.

Improving access to healthcare for persons with disabilities in the Americas

In 2017, significant progress has been made to improve access to healthcare for persons with disabilities and continue working towards PAHO's Action Plan on Disability and Rehabilitation 2014-2019. This Action Plan underwent its midway review at the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference, and the advancement was noted by several member states. Other key achievements have included Chile became the first country of the Region to conduct the Model Disability Survey - which used its findings to help revise policies, laws and activities across the country.

On 28 November 2017, PAHO signed a collaboration agreement with Special Olympics to increase attention and action on inclusive health for persons with intellectual disabilities, including promotion of physical activity. In addition to that, the first two regional meetings on rehabilitation took place in Sao Paulo in November of this year which focused on leadership and health information respectively, with the participation of representatives from across the region. The leadership meeting included representatives from the mental health sector to bring more attention to the importance of psychosocial rehabilitation. These regional meetings follow on from the significant WHO initiative for "Rehabilitation 2030", which was launched in February this year. More meetings are being planned for 2018 in the areas of workforce and assistive technology.

Communication materials

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Graphic cards related to PAHO-Special Olympics Agreement

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