A FAIRMED employee in a white polo shirt with FAIRMED logo is sitting with a blind young man in front of the entrance of a rudimentary hut. She is advising him on health issues.

People with disabilities

Where there is a lack of a functioning healthcare system, the situation for people with disabilities is usually particularly bad. In all our projects, we therefore ensure that people with disabilities have access to the healthcare services they need.

15 percent of people worldwide live with a disability. 80 percent of them in very poor countries. These figures show that the risk of disability is particularly high for poor people. Because of their often unbalanced diet, unclean water, lack of access to health services and their lack of financial resources, people in poor countries become ill more often and are unable to have their illness treated. This can lead - especially in the case of neglected tropical diseases - to preventable and, over time, severe disabilities.

Conversely, disability increases the risk of impoverishment. This is because living with a disability comes with many financial hurdles. Appropriate care and aids such as wheelchairs and crutches place enormous demands on the wallets of those affected. In addition, people with disabilities struggle with difficult access to schooling and the job market. Here they are often overlooked and discriminated against. In general, people living with a disability often face exclusion. Worldwide, they experience discrimination and are often excluded from social, economic and political processes in their societies. For a long time, disability was considered an individual problem treated from a medical and charity perspective, neglecting the question of the rights of people with disabilities as equal citizens.

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that currently only 1-2 percent of people with disabilities in developing countries have access to appropriate interventions. FAIRMED is therefore committed to helping people with disabilities. In our projects, we provide medical support to people with disabilities, enable them to receive further training and help them find jobs. We work to ensure that people with disabilities are able to claim their rights, and to this end we exchange ideas with government employees.

Thanks to FAIRMED, people with disabilities learn how to claim their rights in self-help groups. The goal is for people with disabilities to be recognized and included as full members of society. That is why we also work to ensure that people with disabilities are no longer discriminated against. Among other things, we do this through large-scale awareness-raising measures within the population or through our involvement in the Swiss Disability and Development Consortium (SDDC).

A mother without toes sits on a stool and cooks something over a fireplace. She is colorfully dressed, next to her sits her son, who also has feet mutilated by leprosy. In the background the walls of mud huts can be seen.

The Swiss Disability and Development Consortium (SDDC)

The SDDC is a consortium consisting of CBM, FAIRMED, Handicap International and the International Disability Alliance. In most countries of the world, people with disabilities are still unable to fully exercise their rights. Social, economic, legal and political barriers block their path to a self-determined life. SDDC is therefore committed to ensuring that Switzerland fully guarantees the rights of persons with disabilities in its international cooperation.

Switzerland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) in 2014, committing to the inclusion of persons with disabilities at the national and international levels. The SDDC website provides resources on inclusive development for persons with disabilities and sets out recommendations for the further implementation of the UN CRPD.

No one should suffer or die from a curable disease

Suriyarachchi Nayani Country Coordinator Sri Lanka