World leaders failed to address disability at G20

Research is underway across the world to address the issue but the absence of global standards, protocols and guidelines are adding to the problems.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

NEW DELHI: The world leaders failed to address disability at the recent G20 Summit held in New Delhi, according to a Lancet commentary, which said that dividends in financial investment in a disability-inclusive health sector were not recognised.

The article published on December 1, ahead of World Disability Day on December 3, said that for the first time, the G20 established a Disability, Equity and Justice Group. Yet, it failed to explicitly address the issue in the recommendations of the G20 declaration.

Among many shortcomings across the world, the article said that India’s competency-based curriculum introduced in 2019 faced criticism due to outdated approaches to disability, and medical educators contributed to 27 disability competencies deemed essential for a medical graduate in India.

“After judicial advocacy, eight of these competencies are now mandatory components in the medical curriculum in India,” said the article ‘Health-worker Education for Disability Inclusion in Health.’

Research is underway across the world to address the issue but the absence of global standards, protocols and guidelines are adding to the problems.

“Additionally, inadequate resources allocated specifically for disability-focused training programmes restrict the opportunities for health workers to enhance their skills in this domain,” the article said.

Insufficient emphasis on disability competency in performance evaluations and professional development does not incentivise health workers to prioritise and improve their proficiency,” it added.

Speaking with this paper, Dr Satendra Singh, who is one of the authors of the article, said that many persons with disabilities face the risk of dying earlier — even up to 20 years — than persons without disabilities.

“We missed a great opportunity in G20 by excluding disability. The World Health Organisation calculates that governments could expect a return of about $10 for every $1 invested on disability-inclusive prevention and care. Our Lancet paper highlights why this is needed more than ever,” said Dr Singh, director and professor at the Department of Physiology, University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Delhi. 

Dr Singh said that disability is not sufficiently prioritised in the global agenda. “Despite the establishment of a Disability, Equity, and Justice Group for the first time in the Group of Twenty (G20) in India in 2023, global leaders failed to explicitly address disability in the recommendations of the G20 Declaration, notwithstanding existing evidence that financial investment in a disability-inclusive health sector is an investment with dividends,” said Dr Singh, who suffered from polio at a young age, but went on to become a noted physiologist. He has many awards to his credit for his work as a champion of disability rights.

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