People with disabilities need health care for the same reason that other people do – to stay healthy, active and to live quality lives. The nature of disability, the individual’s personality, the meaning of the disability to the individual, the individual‘s current life circumstances and the individual support system are factors that affect the impact of disability. The quality of the health care offered, however, should not be one of these factors.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in their first world report on disability stated that 1 in 7 people experience disability with 1 billion people globally living with a disability. Although people with disabilities have the same health care needs as non-disabled people, facts such as poverty and social exclusion can exacerbate their health-conditions. In addition their access to health and rehabilitation services may also be affected, being 3 times more likely to be denied health care and 4 times more likely to be treated badly in the health care system. 50 % of people with a disability are also more likely to suffer catastrophic health expenditure and one in two people with disabilities cannot afford health care (WHO 2011).
Health care providers must have positive attitudes towards people with disabilities and must be aware of activity limitations and other barriers in body function or structure, including sensory impairments, cognitive disorders, mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and various types of chronic diseases that disability could include. The main role of health care providers is to provide quality, person centred and safe health care to all, irrespective of whether that individual is able-bodied or has a disability.