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Global disability: An emerging issue

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July 11: World Population Day-Population of Individuals with disabilities

By: M Ahmad

World Population Day is celebrated annually on 11 July to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues. The Day was established by the Governing Council of the UN Development Programme in 1989, an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on 11 July 1987.

The current world population is 7.9 billion as on June 2021, increasing each second, out of which over 1 billion people live with some form of disability. This corresponds to about 15% of the world’s population, with up to 190 million (3.8%) people aged 15 years and older. 11.7 million people with various disabilities live in South Asia, 6.2 million people in East Asia, 3.5 million people in South East Asia, more than 4% of the population in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, less than 0.5% of the population of Western Europe. Nearly 1 in 7 people on earth is disabled. Highest number of disabled persons is in China.

Globally, at least 253 million people have vision impairment. This represents 3.2% of the world’s population. 474 million people have a disabling deafness and hearing loss. This represents 6% of the world’s population. About 205 million people have an intellectual disability (IQ below 75). This represents 2.6% of the world’s population. 79 million people need a wheelchair on a daily basis. This represents 1% of the world’s population. The estimated number of children with disabilities between 0 and 18 years ranges between 93 million and 150 million. Approximately 300 million women around the world have mental and physical disabilities which is 10 percent of all women worldwide.

African Americans are the most likely to have a disability (14 percent) followed by Non-Hispanic Whites (11 percent), Latinos (8 percent) and Asians (5 percent). The highest disability rates for children aged 0 to 14 were reported in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, where the disability rate was estimated between 7.0 and 10.4%. By contrast; the lowest levels were reported in Mexico and Spain, with only 1.4 and 1.8%.

In India the State of Uttar Pradesh is home to the highest number of disabled children (0-6 years). Four States namely, Uttar Pradesh (20.31%), Bihar (14.24%), Maharashtra (10.64%), and West Bengal (6.48%) together have the burden of more than 50% of the disabled children. In J&K there are nearly 3,80,000 individuals with disabilities, 1.6% male and 1.4% female.

Getting to know more about disabled people means getting to know more about 1 billion world citizens who are longing for one thing: a more accessible world!

(The writer is Principal (Incharge) Abhedananda Home-Higher Secondary Institution for Specially-abled Children, Solina, Rambagh, Srinagar, Kashmir,  email: [email protected])

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