Our work on health policy

The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability is a fundamental right enshrined in article 25 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

However, it is far from being a reality for millions of persons with disabilities who tend to receive health care of lower quality that is not adapted to their needs.

The inaccessibility of health care facilities, the lack of accessible information about health care services and entitlements, the lack of adequate training and flexibility for health care professionals, misconceptions about the health care needs of persons with disabilities and discriminatory treatment against persons with disabilities by private health insurances have been identified as major barriers in accessing health care.

Free and informed consent is often denied to persons with psychosocial disabilities, intellectual disabilities and persons under guardianship in their access to mental health services in the EU. In addition, insufficient attention has been given to groups facing a greater risk of exclusion as a result of the intersection between gender, sexual orientation and other grounds of discrimination such as disability. In particular, access to sexual and reproductive rights is by and large impossible for many women and girls with disabilities.

In the health field, the EU shares competence with the EU Member States. The EU complements Member States’ policies to improve public health. In particular, the EU has competence in relation to patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare and the quality and safety of medicines and medical devices.

The European Disability Forum campaigns for...

  • The EU to ensure that persons with disabilities travelling to another EU Member State for health care can rely on a European cross-border benefit package including treatment of chronic disabilities as well as an accessible, reliable and effective complaints and redress body;
  • The Commission to ensure that e-health services, as well as mobile health devices and services are fully accessible and safe to use for disabled patients, family members, personal assistants and health care staff;
  • The EU to facilitate equal access to disability specific health care services for persons with disabilities, as well as to mainstream services, such as dental and eye care, sexual and reproductive health and preventive services, including telemedicine;
  • The EU to promote the development of guidelines on free and informed consent and training of health care professionals on disability awareness and provision of reasonable accommodation, with a particular attention to women, children, older and LGBTI persons with disabilities and to persons with disabilities who have communication difficulties;
  • The EU to promote prevention and health promotion campaigns in accessible formats, with special efforts to reach specific groups of persons with disabilities with evident health disparities, such as women with disabilities and persons with intellectual disabilities;
  • The EU to collect data and promote research on sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities.
  • The EU to ensure its global work is inclusive of persons with disabilities.

We also advocate for the Council of Europe, and its Committee of Bioethics, to withdraw a proposed legislation – the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention – on involuntary treatment and placement in psychiatry and call on States to reform their legislation and adopt binding recommendations voluntary measures. Join our joint campaign #WithdrawOviedo.

Our recommendations and other documents

Testimonials on healthcare services in the EU


  • Disability-inclusive information during COVID-19 by WHO Europe and European Disability Forum (English and Russian)

  • Visibility and participation of persons with disabilities in the COVID-19 response (English and Russian)