People with disabilities in Asia and Pacific region face "deep rooted" stigmatization - Poverty key factor
Bangkok (United Nations Information Services) -- People with disabilities living in the Asia and Pacific region face "deep rooted" stigmatization and discrimination, according to a study conducted for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Nearly two-thirds of all people with disabilities live in South and South-East Asia - 400 million of an estimated 600 million worldwide.
Poverty is a major factor in the lives of most persons with disability in Asia and the Pacific.
"Poor people with disabilities are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty and disability, each being both a cause and a consequence of the other," says the study. Many suffer from nutrition related disabilities, including "a stunting of mental and physical development."
Other major causes of disability include road accidents, population ageing, alcohol dependence and schizophrenia.
Women and girls with disabilities face some of the worst discrimination. The World Bank estimates they may account for as many one in five of the world's poorest people.
As bad as it sounds there have been some improvements.
Governments in the ESCAP region passed legislation to correct some of the inequalities during the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002. However "there still exists a gap" between the recent legislation and policy measures and "the de facto situation of disabled persons" in their communities, the report states.
There is also a growing awareness of a need to improve community access to education, employment, training and rehabilitation for persons with disabilities. Strong regional advocacy has also helped raise awareness of the need for more accessible public facilities and transportation.
The theme study will be presented in its entirety to a gathering of Asia and Pacific government ministers at the 58th Commission Session of UN ESCAP, 16-22 May, 2002.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Delegates from Pacific Island nations will also address the issue of
disability during the seventh session of the Special Body on Pacific Island
Developing Countries at the United Nations Conference Centre, 14th-15th
May. The session will be opened by Mr. Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary,
ESCAP at 0900 hours on Tuesday, 14th May 2002 in Conference Room 3, UNCC,
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