Disability Inclusion in the Health Sector

(דברים בכנס של ארגון הבריאות העולמי על שילוב בעלי מוגבלויות בתחום הבריאות).

(תמונה: ביקור במרכז הרפואי הגריאטרי פלימן בחיפה עם נשיא המדינה יצחק הרצוג ורעייתו).

Firstly, I would like to begin by thanking the World Health Organization, the International Disability Alliance and the governments of Norway and Ghana for convening this important event, I am very happy to be here with you today.

Access to quality healthcare is key to promote public health and achieve the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of "leaving no one behind."
The Covid pandemic showed to us all how interconnected our world is, and how important and crucial adequate access to healthcare is, of course to people with disabilities.
During the Covid crisis, here in Israel, we tried to inform and educate both the public and healthcare providers in the most accessible manner possible.
We put out information in simple language, and in sign language, and instructed all general hospitals to hold a "clear" mask to help people who are hard of hearing to be able to communicate with their physicians.
We also have the legal obligation here in Israel to ensure that our medical services are accessible on all levels- including accessible service, and access to diagnostic technologies. We are working on sets of rules that establish the criteria for accessible healthcare services, using the model of "nothing about us without us," we collaborate with professionals and organizations to determine together what is required in order to be accessible, organizations such as Access Israel help us ensure that our criteria meet the public's needs and abilities.

2. How can health leaders engage persons with disabilities to enhance health system effectiveness?
Health leaders first have to realize that they must engage with all stakeholders in order to enhance health system effectiveness. By engaging persons with disabilities in planning, implementation and monitoring of health services. This will ensure the needs and priorities of persons with disabilities can be considered and included in the design of health services packages.
Secondly, by addressing the barriers that exist in the health sector, which exclude or disadvantage persons with disabilities. These barriers can relate to physical infrastructure, health workforce attitudes, or the methods to communicate health information. Universal health coverage will remain unachievable unless these types of barriers are understood and addressed.
And thirdly, by collecting data and reporting on the success and challenges of including persons with disabilities so that over time, more people can receive the quality health services that they need, and concrete steps towards universal health coverage can be demonstrated.
Through addressing barriers for persons with disabilities in the health sector, everyone benefits, because it means that health services are truly universal, are people-centered, and do not discriminate.
When speaking about the WHA resolution on “the highest attainable standard of health for persons with disabilities”, it is important to mention that this resolution which is the first one proposed on this topic after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, puts a great emphasize on the principle that persons with disabilities must sit at the decision makers' table and be partners in shaping decisions concerning their own lives.
“Nothing about us without us" should not remain a catchy slogan – meaningfully involving persons with disabilities in decision-making processes is a precondition for ensuring disability inclusion in general and in health systems in particular. The process of setting accessibility laws in Israel demonstrates this: each ministry consults public organizations and experts, sets its recommendations, and this connection persists through all the legislative process, culminating in the public discussion in a Knesset subcommittee, in which the public is an inherent part of the decision making process.
I thank you very much and looking forward to keep working together on this important issue.