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Guidance Note on Disability and Emergency Risk Management for Health

An estimated 15% of the world’s population live with some form of disability , yet they are among the most vulnerable and neglected in any type of emergency (see Box 1 for definitions of relevant terms). Evidence gathered from previous events shows that people with disabilities are disproportionately affected and experience particularly high rates of mortality and morbidity. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Article 11 (on situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies) calls upon States Parties to take “all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters”

This guidance note is intended primarily for health actors working in emergency and disaster risk management (hereafter 'emergency risk management') at the local, national or international level, and in governmental or nongovernmental agencies. People with disabilities, those working in the disability sector and those working in other sectors that contribute to improved health outcomes related to emergency risk management, may also find this guidance note useful.

It is a short, practical guide that covers actions across emergency risk management such as risk assessment, prevention (including hazard and vulnerability reduction), preparedness, response, recovery and reconstruction. It outlines the minimum steps health actors should take to ensure that specific support is available for people with disabilities when needed and to ensure that disability is included in the development and implementation of general health actions in all emergency contexts, that is, natural and technological hazards, epidemic diseases and other biological hazards, and conflicts and other societal hazards. This dual strategy – of both mainstream and specific support – will help ensure that the long-term needs of the community are met

Section 1 of this document provides an overview of the impact of emergencies on people with disabilities and describes the principles that should underpin practical action related to emergencies. Recognizing that disability is a multisectoral issue, Section 2 outlines the minimum actions required across sectors/clustersa and specific disability-related actions that can be undertaken by health actors working in different areas of health care provision such as injury prevention and trauma care, mental health and psychosocial support, and child health to ensure inclusion of disability. The guidance note is supported by a series of annexes that provide further details and checklists to assist actors in conducting assessments and in the design and delivery of programmes and services