Address by Her Majesty the Queen on the occassion of the event The Missing Billion in UHC: children and persons with developmental delays and disabilities in The NY Public Library, New York
(Address pronounced in English)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Agenda 2030 and the SDG’s have been conceived in order to leave no one behind. As we move forward in their implementation, we need to constantly make sure that our policies take into account the needs of the most vulnerable.
This means designing solutions that respond to the particular situation of vulnerable people, whether it is poverty, lack of access to education, disease, developmental delays, disabilities or mental health issues.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities underlines that, and I quote, “persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability”.
It is therefore quite disturbing to note that, in particular in developing countries, quality healthcare remains out of reach for too many children and adults suffering from developmental delays and other disabilities. Consequently, they are unable to find treatment either for their disabling condition or for common diseases, to which they are often more exposed and sensitive than the general population.
Indeed, all indicators point to the fact that, globally, we still have a long way to go before persons with disabilities, especially the poorest and most affected, can enjoy equal access to healthcare.
Universal health coverage should be what its name says: universal.
Affordability remains crucial and progress in accessing proper health services will remain difficult without adequate financial arrangements.
We also need equity in physical access to care. Those in need of health services should not be faced with the discouraging perspective of long-distance travel or infrastructures that are not adapted to their needs.
However, let us pay more attention to the human side. I speak very often, for instance, about the need to break the stigma that silences people with mental health issues and limits their capacity to seek assistance and care. Children and adults with any type of disability often have to face inadequate reactions, stigmatization and even neglect, because of stereotypes, lack of information and poor communication.
This vicious circle must definitely be broken. Good information and communication must be developed, as well as adequate training of teachers and health workers. Building on recent progress, we need to continue to listen to the voices and experience of those directly concerned, their carers and their families. They will definitely have to be part of our global conversation if we want to move in the right direction.
Only the spoken word counts.