Today, the European Disability Forum (EDF) sent an open letter addressed to Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety requesting a meeting on inclusion of persons with disabilities in the EU policies on health.
While progress has been made in access to health in the European Union, including through the adoption of EU legislation, such as the Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare, EDF remains concerned by gaps in access for persons with disabilities, including widespread discrimination within health systems, lack of access to information and healthcare services, reasonable accommodation and training of professionals.
According to the Gender Equality Index 2020, women and men with disabilities are less likely to perceived themselves in good health, and report more unmet needs to healthcare, than those without disabilities. More than three time more women with disabilities and twice more men with disabilities were with unmet needs to medical examination in the EU. These gaps were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as explained in our Human Rights Report on the impact COVID-19 on persons with disabilities, sent to Commissioner Kyriakides in March.
EDF and our European and national members have since then been particularly active in advocating for inclusive healthcare policies at national and EU levels, including in mental healthcare. In particular, EDF has contributed this year to consultations related to the European Health Union, the evaluation of patient rights in cross-border healthcare, and digital health data and services.
In the letter EDF highlights the important initiatives for EDF:
- Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. Unfortunately, persons with disabilities often face a lack of access to health information, public health screening, lack of, or late diagnosis due to inaccessible cancer screening services and overall inequality and discrimination in accessing healthcare services. EDF will contribute to the consultations on the Beating Cancer Plan and call on the Commissioner to not leave persons with disabilities behind.
- Implementation of measures under the European Strategy on Disability Rights. EDF is interested to know how the Commission will address issues related to health and disability through the Steering Group on Promotion and Prevention for the sharing of validated health-related good practices to support Member States in their health reforms, and how it will support stakeholders in the area of mental healthcare.
- Prevention, preparedness and control. EDF sent concrete recommendations on proposals to reinforce the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, on serious cross-border health threats, on the European Medical Agency and on the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority. Reforms must better include persons with disabilities and their organisations.
- Involuntary treatment and placement. EDF reiterates concerns about the trend of involuntary placement and treatment of users of mental health services in Europe, particularly affecting persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, as well as autistic people. EDF called on the EU to take a stand against the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention that will be put for adoption by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Bioethics in November 2021.
Read here the complete letter
Marine Uldry – Human Rights Officer