Second International Conference on Intellectual Disability

November 07, 2007 14:32 ET

Quebec Specialists Launching the World Health Organization (WHO) Atlas on Global Resources for Persons With Intellecutual Disabilities

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Nov. 7, 2007) - Yesterday, at the opening of the Second International Conference on Intellectual Disability in Bangkok, a team of Quebec specialists presented the very first WHO Atlas on Global Resources for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (Atlas-ID), which provides important information on resources and services pertaining to intellectual disability around the world.

According to Jocelin Lecomte, a member of the Montreal team leading this project, "The visibility of the Atlas-ID will enhance national and global awareness related to intellectual disability. The WHO Atlas-ID is a practical tool of about a hundred pages aimed at improving the quality of life of people with an intellectual disability and their families".

This report, prepared jointly by the West Montreal and Lisette-Dupras Readaptation Centres and the World Health Organization (WHO), describes for the very first time the state of resources dedicated to intellectual disability in 147 countries, which represent 95% of the world population.

"Intellectual disability is becoming an increasingly significant stake in terms of human rights, as identified by the WHO and protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities", says Mr. Lecomte. The Atlas-ID is thus a major step towards the awareness of governments in connection with citizens with an ID."

Highlights of the Atlas-ID

- The findings in the Atlas-ID show such a lack of adequate policy and legislative response and a serious deficiency of services and resources allocated to persons with ID, globally.

- According to the Atlas-ID, the situation is particularly worrisome in most low and middle-income countries. The lack of consensus on basic terms and classification criteria related to the ID field does not help to improve this situation.

- 59.2% of the countries that responded to the survey have a national policy or programme related to intellectual disabilities. These policies and/or programmes address education, health, housing, labour, income, etc.

- 71.2% of responding countries have a specific law that offers some form of judicial protection to persons with intellectual disabilities. While the notion of judicial protection is one that has long been held against persons with intellectual disabilities, since guardianship laws have historically been used to deny such individuals their right to make decisions and take part in civil life, sometimes the civil protection of a person with intellectual disabilities and of their assets is necessary when they are unable to take care of themselves.

- The majority of responding countries (75%) offer services to persons with ID. These services are offered to children, adolescents and adults and cut across a vast array of areas such as primary health, inpatient health care services, specialized services and physical rehabilitation.

- There is an ongoing coexistence of inclusive and segregated education systems worldwide: in 70.9% of countries, children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities are included in regular classes; 76.3% of countries have special classes; and 91.3% have special schools for children with ID. This in spite of the fact that since 1994 UNESCO has promoted the school inclusion approach where children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities should attend regular school classes and activities with students without intellectual disabilities.

- Resources and services for persons with intellectual disabilities in all WHO regions are proportional to country income. Accordingly, high-income countries tend to provide community-based specific services to persons with intellectual disabilities, while low-income countries tend to have resource and service gaps.

For more information on the Atlas, please visit the WHO World Atlas on Resources in Intellectual Disabilities http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/. or www.crld.ca

Source: WHO World Atlas on Resources in Intellectual Disabilities

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