Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2014 – we have a BIG role to play.

A billion people in the world, 15% of the population, have a disability severe enough that it limits their participation in family, community and political life. Eighty percent of those billion people live in low and middle-income countries, where often access to basic health and social services is limited for all citizens. (WHO, 2014) 

All of us either are or will become disabled to one degree or another during the course of our lives. Some of us live with severe disabilities – blindness, deafness, mobility restriction – but all of us are susceptible to conditions that can limit us in our daily lives – think chronic back pain, depression, diabetes or any of the NCD’s such as cancer, COPD, cardiovascular disease.  All of us will at some stage in our career treat people with these disabilities, and if we’re not doing that we’ll be researching or teaching how to manage these disabilities.

It is the role of our physiotherapy and physical therapy profession to restrict disability.  In relation to global health, we have previously discussed our role in combatting some these disabilities and we have some (limited, if anyone should feel like improving them!) resources on Physiopedia. Today we should think about how we do and can further our contribution to helping people with disabilities participate and be included in society on an equal basis with others.  We have a BIG role to play and no boots to fill.  It’s time to shout about the importance of the rehabilitation and pre-habilitation work that we do to prevent disability!

Read the full IDPD 2014 message from the Director-General of WHO