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Understanding Disabilities

What is disability?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines ‘disability’ as more than just physical impairment, to include activity limitations and participation restrictions. Disability is thus set in the context of the interaction between a person’s body, and the people and society in which he or she lives.

Interventions are needed to address the severe physical challenges of health conditions such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, as well as environmental and social barriers. People with disabilities may also suffer a narrower ‘margin of health’ due to poverty and social exclusion, and because of increased health risk behaviours such as poor diet and physical inactivity. Learn more about this world through the Perspectives blog below.


Disability and Health

In its fact sheet on Disability (Nov 2012), the WHO puts over a billion people, or about 15% of the world’s population, as having some form of disability. Of this number, between 110 million and 190 million people have significant difficulties in functioning. These rates are increasing worldwide in part due to ageing populations.

Disability is extremely diverse. Some health conditions associated with disability result in poor health and extensive health care needs, others do not. At Christian Outreach to the Handicapped, the forms of physical disability we care for and treat can be quite severe. In most cases, we focus on the training of daily life skills that will be helpful in the home. Learn more about specific disabilities below.