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Reimagining Universal Health Coverage to Leave No One Behind

Berlin, Germany: The conference brought to the realities faced by individuals with disabilities, highlighting the lack of inclusion in healthcare systems, especially in terms of the affordability, accessibility and acceptability of medical facilities. It was the first of its kind that had persons with disability as part of the panel.

Nujeen Mustafa who chaired the session, a Syrian advocate for disability and refugee rights, faced challenges while in Syria. She got her first wheelchair as a refugee in Germany. At home, her challenges included the high cost of physiotherapy and the need to be physically carried upstairs to access medical facilities.

Dr. Ariane Hildebrandt, the director general of Global Health, delivered the opening statement, emphasizing the importance of inclusion in healthcare.

Barbara Njovo, shared her experiences in accessing healthcare in Zimbabwe, stressing the importance of training healthcare workers and self-advocacy for persons with disabilities while Fredrick an advocate for a community-based approach in healthcare, addressing geographical and structural barriers, and the importance of affordability, accessibility, acceptability, and demand-driven services.

Government officials highlighted efforts made by their governments to make universal healthcare more inclusive for persons with disabilities. ‘This includes disability assessment and categorisation, health insurance premiums, and addressing challenges in the healthcare system, said Dr. Amoth acting Director General for Health in the Ministry of Health, Kenya.

Cambodia’s government official, Dr. Vanny Peng, illustrated how their country’s social protection program for persons with disabilities, includes cash allowances and access to free healthcare support. ‘We are working on data collection and collaborating with communities to improve the social support system’. Inclusivity in healthcare systems, the need for awareness, advocacy, and the role of assistive technology in improving the lives of persons with disabilities should be prioritized. No country can achieve universal health care it without including and addressing the needs of persons with disabilities.

Joseph Baraza- LVCT Health Disability Program Officer gives his views on why inclusivity matters

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