The UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) laid out a number of goals in tackling global poverty by 2015 but left a glaring omission in the equation to aid the world’s poor: serving those who are disabled.

Nearly 70% of the world’s disabled population resides in developing countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 575 million of those disabled live below the poverty threshold. Preventable diseases, such as polio and measles, that are not treated properly in poor and developing countries leave a high number of the population with lifelong disabilities.

Other conditions, such as civil war, lack of health care, and malnutrition also contribute to the problem. In developing nations, a disability is “often seen as a curse, the result of bad luck or witchcraft.” Because of this, disabled individuals and even their families are often shunned from the social community and are left without means to support themselves, and lack access to education and healthcare. In the worst cases, disabled people are left to die.

Although the MDGs include many aid programs with worthy recipients, the disabled population is completely left out although they are some of those who suffer the most. This crucial omission means that this large demographic is left out of specific aid programs. For example, many school-aged children have benefited from MDG education initiatives – but what about the 61 million children who still lack access to education, a majority of whom are disabled?

The UN has somewhat recognized this with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008. It will be most important for development leaders, when evaluating post-2015 development goals, to include disabled people throughout the developing world in their plans and programs.

Christina Kindlon

Source: The Guardian