Children With Developmental Disabilities Have High Risk Of Premature Mortality Says WHO
WHO in its statement said that the evidence underscores that children with developmental disabilities face graver health challenges and a heightened risk of premature mortality compared to their peers. The most frequent, preventable causes of death among children and young people with developmental disabilities encompass epilepsy, choking, respiratory infections, and injuries
On Friday WHO and UNICEF jointly published a report highlighting the global prevalence of developmental disabilities among children and young people, shedding light on the urgent action needed to address the disparities in their access to healthcare, health outcomes, and exposure to social determinants such as poverty.
The report said that “In 2019, 317 million children and young people were affected by health conditions contributing to a developmental disability. Many of them experience stigmatization, prejudice, and social exclusion. They also encounter barriers in accessing health care and experience poorer quality of care when compared with their peers”.
WHO in a statement said that children and young individuals grappling with developmental disabilities often live with underlying health conditions that impact their developing nervous systems. These conditions give rise to impairments in motor skills, cognition, language, behaviour, and sensory functions, ultimately resulting in associated disabilities.
Unfortunately, these impairments, compounded by various barriers and contextual factors, can hinder a child's ability to fully and equitably participate in society alongside their peers, WHO stated.
These underlying health conditions contributing to developmental disabilities encompass a wide spectrum of disorders, including autism, intellectual developmental disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and various other neurodevelopmental disorders categorized in the International Classification of Diseases, 11th Revision (ICD-11).
Furthermore, this category extends to include a broader group of congenital conditions like Down syndrome and conditions acquired at birth or during childhood, such as cerebral palsy. Addressing these multifaceted challenges is crucial to ensuring the well-being and inclusion of these children and young people in society, WHO said.
"From poorer health outcomes to social exclusion, children and young people with developmental disabilities experience vast disparities. By strengthening interventions to support children and young people with developmental disabilities within wider efforts to boost universal health coverage and promote inclusive nurturing environments, we can ensure they have access to the resources and services they need to live healthy lives,” said Dévora Kestel, Director for Mental Health and Substance Use, WHO.
WHO in its statement said that the evidence underscores that children with developmental disabilities face graver health challenges and a heightened risk of premature mortality compared to their peers. The most frequent, preventable causes of death among children and young people with developmental disabilities encompass epilepsy, choking, respiratory infections, and injuries.
These health disparities persist into adulthood, elevating the likelihood of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, respiratory ailments, and mental health issues. The resource also highlighted that the underfunded and fragmented healthcare systems leave individuals with developmental disabilities with unmet healthcare needs.
WHO stated that children and young people often suffer from undiagnosed and untreated health problems due to delayed diagnoses, long waiting lists, and ineligibility for essential care services. Insufficient information, social stigma, and limited comprehension of developmental disabilities further obstruct healthcare access. Physical and attitudinal obstacles, coupled with inadequate training, contribute to the unequal healthcare experienced by these children.
“The vision of leaving no one behind can only be achieved if the aspirations and needs of children and young people with developmental disabilities are brought from the margins to the mainstream of our work in promoting the health and well-being of children all over the world” said Dr Luwei Pearson, Associate Director of Health, UNICEF.