Inclusion Europe demands equal access to quality health care for persons with intellectual disabilities

PRESS RELEASE: Brussels, 8 June 2012

Inclusion Europe has adopted a new position paper on ‘Inclusive Health Care and People with Intellectual Disabilities’. The General Assembly signed off on this position on Friday 1 June 2012 at the Thon Hotel in Brussels. It is based on the notion that health is of paramount importance for all, not alone to preserve physical and mental health status, but to increase human capabilities, buffer the impact of poverty and to widen participation.

The United Nations Convention recalls that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. However this is not always the case, whether because of discrimination, ignorance, lack of access to services and insurance; people with intellectual disabilities often experience difficulties in accessing the mainstream health care system.

Inclusion Europe believes that some of the health disparities between people with intellectual disabilities and other people are health inequalities: that is, they are avoidable and may in fact be unjust.

While having less access to healthcare, people with intellectual disabilities often have greater health needs than other people.

The key recommendations supported by Inclusion Europe and its members in this paper are focusing on:

  • Making health care available everywhere including remote areas and for everyone with a full coverage of health expenses for medication and therapies.
  • Investing on research including at a European level to understand health disparities and gather specific data on people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Adapting legislation and policies so that every citizen is treated the same way. This should be done both in the European Union and its member states.
  • Training healthcare professionals so they know how to treat a patient with intellectual disabilities. This training should be mandatory during their education.
  • Improving communications so that healthcare professionals, social care professionals and people with intellectual disabilities will all be able to contact and consult each other. This way everyone has the same information. People with intellectual disabilities should have a say in their treatment.
  • Promoting awareness, involvement and empowerment of people with intellectual disabilities regarding health issues.

To read the position paper, please click here.


Inclusion Europe (IE) is the European voice and representation of 70 member organisations of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Founded in 1988, Inclusion Europe has 20-year track record of successful operation and defending the rights of its constituency.

For more information, please, contact:

Magdi Birtha
Human Rights Officer
Inclusion Europe
Tel: +32 2 502 28 15
Fax: +32 2 502 80 10