The Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health

Persons with disabilities can lead active, productive, long and healthy lives as anyone else. They have similar health care needs as the rest of the population and yet, evidence shows that persons with disabilities are often more vulnerable to developing ill health than the general population, as often they do not receive the health care and support they require. Addressing inequalities in accessing and using healthcare services is central to improve the health status of persons with disabilities.

In this regard, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, with the support of the Government of Finland, hosted an Expert Group Meeting on the right of persons with disabilities to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health in Geneva, Switzerland on 15-16 May 2018. H.E. Ambassador Terhi Hakala, Permanent Representative of Finland, delivered opening remarks at the beginning of the meeting. Approximately 25 experts from UN entities, organizations of persons with disabilities, civil society and academia, with a variety of expertise, perspectives, and regional representation participated in the meeting.

The expert meeting aimed to inform the report of the Special Rapporteur to the 73rd session of the General Assembly, which focuses on the right to health of persons with disabilities. The meeting identified global challenges and trends, as well as legal and policy responses and good practices, to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of this right for persons with disabilities. A background document was also prepared to provide an overview of the different topics related to the health of persons with disabilities.

The participants discussed how the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is a fundamental human right recognised in numerous international instruments. It contains both freedoms and entitlements extending to timely and appropriate healthcare, and social determinants of health, such as housing, food and nutrition, water and sanitation, healthy occupational and environmental conditions, and access to health-related information and education.

Questionnaire on "the right of persons with disabilities to the highest attainable standard of health" - Call for submissions

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, is currently preparing a study, to be presented at the 73rd session of the General Assembly (October 2018), on the right of persons with disabilities to the highest attainable standard of health.

The Special Rapporteur welcomes inputs, in accessible formats (Word), in English, French or Spanish, from Member States, international and regional organizations, UN agencies, funds and programmes, organizations of and for persons with disabilities, civil society, national human rights institutions and other national independent mechanisms designated or established to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disability or equality Ombudspersons, scholars, research institutions and policy think tanks, private sector businesses and networks, community movements, and private individuals.

Submissions should be sent by e-mail to the address no later than 30 March 2018. Concise responses are encouraged, inclusive of relevant attachments where available.

Kindly indicate if you have any objections with regard to your reply being posted on this website.

Specific information request in English | French | Spanish (Word).

List of replies received: Only official responses in accessible format have been posted

Member States


Civil society, including DPOs

Individuals (response available upon request)

  • Paul Milton
  • Martha Savage
  • Mari Yamamoto