3 December 2009 – Well here we are on December 3rd, The International Day for Persons with Disabilities. The United Nations and The World Health Organization have set this year’s goals as making the Millennium Development Goals inclusive. In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Stevie Wonder as a 11th United Nations Messenger of Peace, even though they were forced to evacuate the building during Wonder’s acceptance speech.
Here in Canada tabled the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, today. This is a step forward, but it also stands in sharp contrast to the realities for many in Canada today. The Convention promises:
Article 10 – Right to life
States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.
Article 25 – Health
States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:
- Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
- Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons;
- Provide these health services as close as possible to people’s own communities, including in rural areas;
- Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public and private health care;
- Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner;
- Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.
Similar promises were made to children with disabilities two decades earlier. So why on earth are on this celebration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities does anyone have to read the Bankruptcy or Justice? story below on this blog? If, as the Farlows seem to believe, their child died as a result of medical discrimination and possibly of a deliberate drug overdose, why is there so little interest in uncovering the truth? If it is not true, why not answer all their questions fully and honestly?
The simple reality is that there is an enormous chasm between the promises made to children and adults with disabilities in human rights documents, and the realities of our current health care system.