Online course on Global Disability and Health due to launch soon!

Reader and Director of the International Centre for Evidence in Disability
Organisation: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Online course on global disability and health. Sankarlal has been completely blind since he was 14 years old. His life changed when he joined a group set up by the URMUL Trust. Now he’s proud to have shown people that disability doesn’t mean a job and income is out of reach. Photo by Graeme Robertson

Big news: the team at the International Centre for Evidence in Disability (ICED) is launching an online course “Global Disability and Health”. The course will focus on importance of health and wellbeing of people with disabilities in the context of the global development agenda: Leaving no one behind. This three-week course launches on February 26. The course consists of videos, mini-lectures, debates, quizzes and articles to share knowledge in an exciting and engaging way.

What’s in it for eye care folks?

Visual impairment and disability are intertwined concepts. People with visual loss may find it difficult to participate in everyday activities, like having a job, going to school, or engaging in social life. This exclusion can be considered to be disabling. This exclusion can be overcome through offering medical treatment to improve vision. Changing the person’s living conditions so that he/she can be more actively engaged can also be important, for instance, offering mobility training, assistive devices or vocational rehabilitation.

People with visual impairments are often older, and so more likely to be experiencing other types of impairments as well, whether hearing loss, physical impairments, or difficulties in remembering. An understanding of disability and the importance of disability to development is therefore important for IAPB members.

Some context

Around 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, live with some form of disability, with numbers continuing to rise over the coming decades. People with disabilities are often overlooked in national and international development, and can face widespread barriers in accessing services, including health and rehabilitation services, even though simple initiatives are available to enable access. This is also true for people with visual impairment.

As eye health professionals, it is also important to consider the access to healthcare of people with visual impairment. A lot of focus is placed upon cure or treatment of eye conditions. Sadly, it is not always possible to preserve sight. It is important to offer rehabilitation, to make sure that those with incurable visual loss can still participate as fully as possible. In addition, since many people with visual loss will experience other impairments, we must therefore ensure that eye health services are accessible to people with different impairment types to make sure that we can provide the treatments that are needed.

What topics will the course cover?

  • The magnitude of disability and relevance of disability to the global development agenda
  • Defining disability and how it can be understood and measured
  • The challenges to health and wellbeing amongst people with disabilities and why people with disabilities might have poorer health
  • Why people with disabilities may have difficulty in accessing health services
  • Links among longer term health conditions and disability
  • How to improve access to health care and rehabilitation for people with disabilities
  • Community based inclusive development for improving access to health and rehabilitation for people with disabilities

Familiar faces

Many examples are included in the course about global blindness, including its magnitude, measurement, impact and means of alleviating. You will see many familiar faces, including Andrew Bastawrous describing Peek, Allen Foster talking about his experience as an ophthalmologist in Africa, and Yetenebersh Nigussie describing the challenges that she faces as a blind woman living in Africa. You will learn about the Inclusive Eye Health programme in Pakistan from Babar Qureshi, and consider the case study of a man with visual impairment in Cameroon.

We do hope that you join us on the course. To find out more information or to register, go to the course page on FutureLearn and please help us to spread the word!

The post was written by Hannah Kuper, along with her colleagues at the International Centre for Evidence in Disability,  Islay Mactaggart and Dorothy Boggs.

Photo credit: Sankarlal has been completely blind since he was 14 years old. His life changed when he joined a group set up by the URMUL Trust. Now he’s proud to have shown people that disability doesn’t mean a job and income is out of reach. Photo by Graeme Robertson for Sightsavers.