|Programme : Opening Statement
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Workshop on Improving Disability Data for Policy Use
23-26 September 2003
Ms. Keiko Okaido
Deputy Executive Secretary
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
(ESCAP), it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to Bangkok for the Workshop on
Improving Disability Data for Policy Use.
This Workshop is being organized jointly by the Statistics Division and the Emerging
Social Issues Division of ESCAP and is funded under the United Nations regular programme
of technical cooperation. It is part of ESCAP's endeavour to promote the Biwako Millennium Framework
for Action towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with
Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.
This gathering is very special because it brings national statisticians who are
responsible for producing disability statistics together with the data user community,
especially policy makers and analysts.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the national experts for having
accepted our invitation. My thanks also go to the colleagues from WHO and other agencies
and institutions who have joined us to share their valuable knowledge and expertise in the
field of disability.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the ESCAP region, many countries have not yet started to collect disability data.
The few data which are available are not comparable across countries, as they are not
based on a common system of definition and classification of disability. Furthermore, the
disability concepts used in the region are largely based on a medical-cum-biological
definition rather than on a definition related to restriction of activity. For various
reasons, disability is grossly underreported in Asia; often, the statistics reflect
impossibly low prevalence rates. The lack of reliable data and information is a critical
bottleneck to effective planning and development in the area of disability.
The Biwako Millennium Framework, mindful of this situation, called for Governments to
develop, by 2005, systems of disability-related data collection and analysis and to adopt
by the same year definitions on disability based on the United Nations guidelines and
principles for the development of disability statistics. The first session of the ESCAP
Committee on Emerging Social Issues, held at Bangkok earlier this month, also considered
it urgent to establish and strengthen systems to collect data on persons with disabilities
throughout the region. It is in this spirit that you have gathered to discuss how to
improve national disability measurements and learn from each others' practices and
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, known as ICF,
has evolved from the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and
Handicaps. ICF was endorsed at the Fifty-fourth World Health Assembly, in May 2001, for
international use as one of WHO's family of international classifications. It provides a
unified and standard language and framework for the description of health and
health-related states. I am very pleased that the Workshop will focus its deliberations on
such critical issues as how to use ICF as an overall framework for disability assessment,
as well as on a broad range of methodological issues related to data collection.
Ladies and gentlemen,
ESCAP, as custodian of the Biwako Millennium Framework, has assumed a leading role in
the region in promoting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Several
initiatives have been taken in this regard; recently, we organized a series of events to
prepare a regional input to the proposed international convention on the protection and
promotion of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, including a workshop on
women and disability held at Bangkok in August 2003.
I am confident that the present Workshop will be a milestone opportunity for the region
to prepare a road map to implement ICF and, by doing so, to strengthen national capacities
to collect more reliable and comparable statistics on disability. ESCAP will take
appropriate follow-up action to implement the recommendations of the Workshop.
On this occasion, I would like to thank the donors, especially the Government of Japan,
for its continued support of ESCAP's initiatives. I remain convinced that they will
maintain that support in the future.
I wish you every success in your deliberations and a pleasant stay in Bangkok.
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