BRIEFING PAPER: Why should rehabilitation be integrated into health systems? | February 6, 2015

Rehabilitation must be recognized as an essential component of health care as it is critical in supporting individuals reaching an optimum level of health and wellbeing, and participating fully in society. 92% of the disease burden in the world is related to causes that require health professionals associated with physical rehabilitation. Between 110 million and […]

Rehabilitation must be recognized as an essential component of health care as it is critical in supporting individuals reaching an optimum level of health and wellbeing, and participating fully in society.

92% of the disease burden in the world is related to causes that require health professionals associated with physical rehabilitation. Between 110 million and 190 million adults have significant difficulties in functioning. It is therefore crucial for those services to be better integrated into health systems and better supported, including in terms of human resources.

Physical and functional rehabilitation aims to restore, compensate, prevent or slow deterioration in functioning (sensorial, physical, intellectual, mental, cognitive, or social) to help individuals to reach their optimal level. It places the person at the center and uses a broad range of therapeutic measures including exercise, provision of assistive technologies (e.g. hearing aids, wheelchairs), adaptation of the environment to eliminate barriers etc. Rehabilitation services may be found in a variety of health care settings, from hospitals to communities.

However rehabilitation services tend to be perceived as a luxury and demanding in terms of financial and human resources. As a result, rehabilitation is rarely integrated into health system strengthening, policy and planning, and receives little attention within global health financing.

Handicap International produced a briefing paper to ensure rehabilitation is high on the agenda of other health stakeholders, and guarantee that persons with disabilities and their representative organizations are consulted and involved in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of health policies. Key recommendations include:

  • Development policies and programs at international and national levels are UNCRPD compliant, and ensure health services, including rehabilitation, are available, accessible, acceptable, affordable, accountable and of good quality;
  • Funding mechanisms for covering health expenditures, including rehabilitation services, assistive devices and technologies as well as human aid/personal assistance, are developed at national level ;
  • Collection of data on disability and rehabilitation is supported at international level, and integrated in all national health information system;
  • States increase human resources for rehabilitation services, including fostering training, recognition and retention of personnel; and also increase awareness on disability and rehabilitation in the health sector
  • Ensure the participation of persons with disabilities in planning, monitoring and evaluation of health and rehabilitation related policies.

Read the briefing paper.


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