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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 1843-1844
We Decide: An initiative by the UNFPA to fight for the rights of disabled individuals

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication11-Jan-2018

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. We Decide: An initiative by the UNFPA to fight for the rights of disabled individuals. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:1843-4

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. We Decide: An initiative by the UNFPA to fight for the rights of disabled individuals. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Apr 14];10:1843-4. Available from:

Dear Sir,

The problem of disability is extremely varied and enormous, with more than a billion people across the world living with some kind of disability.[1] Further, it has been estimated that almost 3.8% of the world's adult population have significant trouble with their routine activities and the number is going to aggravate further due to increased life expectancy, as there is a simultaneous rise in the incidence of multiple chronic conditions.[1],[2] In addition, disabled people are extremely vulnerable to the shortcomings in the healthcare services and are at great risk of multiple other hardships or ailments, including premature deaths.[1],[2],[3]

Moreover, disabled people have extremely high unmet healthcare needs, and there is a great need to mainstream the services, offer the highest standard of health care without discrimination, and prevent violation of their human rights.[2],[4] Nevertheless, a wide range of factors operate to prevent the attempt of disabled people to utilize health services, such as affordability, limited availability, physical constraints, and poorly trained or insensitive health professionals.[1],[4] At the same time, about one-fifth of the disabled women are exposed to forced sex, denied of contraceptive measures or information about their rights/bodies, and even subjected to forced abortion or sterilization.[5]

Predominantly, with regard to disabled women, they have limited educational or vocational opportunities, cannot contribute to the society, and often remain unmarried and with no social or independent life.[1],[2] Further, it has been estimated that disabled children or adolescent are three to four times more prone to any form of violence, while disabled women have 10 times risk to be subjected to sexual violence.[5]

Moreover, some of the nations do have legal provisions as well to curb these practices, safeguard the sexual and reproductive health, and even protect the rights of disabled people, but they are not implemented stringently.[2],[4]

In order to respond to this challenge at the community level, the United Nation Population Fund has initiated a “We Decide” initiative in an African nation, with an aim to improve the involvement of the disabled young people on various issues and policies that affect their health, especially with regard to preventing sexual violence and maintenance of optimal sexual and reproductive health.[5] It also aims to neutralize the existing barriers or stereotype practices prevalent in the community and facilitate social inclusion.[5] The initiative is based on the fact that if disabled people are not informed about their rights or taught about their sexual and reproductive health, their quality of life will never improve and they will be maltreated throughout their lives.[1],[4],[5]

Even though, the strategy to empower disabled individuals with sexual and reproductive health is of immense utility and scope, a lot more is required and efforts have to be taken to ensure that gender and disability discrimination does not occur at any possible level.[4],[5] In fact, a major change will happen only when disabled people start considering disability as their strength and fight for their rights, which they deserve but have been devoid of.[5] On the other hand, the health sector can neutralize the existing barriers through a systematic approach, which essentially involves the representation of disabled people.[1],[2],[4],[5]

To conclude, disabled people, especially girls and women have been exposed to multiple challenges and violation of their rights. It is high time that policy makers and other stakeholders work together to improve their quality of life and ensure their social inclusion.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

World Health Organization Disability and health - Fact sheet No, 352; 2015. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 26].  Back to cited text no. 1
Payne D. Improving access for disabled women. Nurs N Z 2016;22:2.  Back to cited text no. 2
White S, Kuper H, Itimu-Phiri A, Holm R, Biran A. A qualitative study of barriers to accessing water, sanitation and hygiene for disabled people in Malawi. PLoS ONE 2016;11:e0155043.  Back to cited text no. 3
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. A comprehensive approach to minimize the aftereffects of disability on health standards in low resource settings. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:211-2.  Back to cited text no. 4
  [Full text]  
UNFPA. Youth with disabilities face staggering loss of rights. 2016;Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Jun 27].  Back to cited text no. 5

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur, Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.222649

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