2015 Rights of persons with disabilities White Paper.
The social framing of disability is at the heart of the White Paper and follows similar moves globally at the time it was produced. However, WHO’s definition of disability is not only focused on social issues, it is not an exclusionary definition of disability.
Only HIV health programmes are mentioned on page 88 as a prime intervention in South Africa. The only clear funding at a national level is for HIV-related programmes via a conditional grant. Disability is framed as a social issue and added as a priority via a revision to chapter 11 of the National Development Plan (NDP).
In effect, this means the prevention and treatment of NCDs is not considered important in relation to disability. For example, preventable sight loss or limb amputation are not considered in this policy as it follows the social model of disability. This kind of dualism is outdated. We need integrated frameworks at a high policy level that deal with social issues and allow for the health causes to be addressed directly through the National Department of Health and the provincial departments that implement care.
None of this will be possible until NCDs are made a priority in chapter 10 of the NDP. And that is just the beginning.
The white paper is the product of the Department of Social Development. It is heartening that this policy is currently (2023) under review by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DPWYPD).
The policy is dated in that it developed prior to the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and contains minimal references to a more inclusive and integrated agenda. The 2022 WHO Global report on health equity for persons with disabilities.
white paper on disability rights 2019
“The world is still far from realizing this right for many persons with disabilities who continue to die earlier, have poorer health, and experience more limitations in everyday functioning than others. These poor health outcomes are due to unfair conditions faced by persons with disabilities in all facets of life, including in the health system itself. Countries have an obligation under international human rights law to address the health inequities faced by persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the Sustainable Development Goals and global health priorities will not progress without ensuring health for all.