New rehabilitation guidelines for the disabled launched

WHO has released new community-based rehabilitation (CBR) guidelines to support the inclusion of people with disabilities in health, education, employment, social, skills-training and other community services and activities. The guidelines are an important tool to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and strengthen community-based development involving these people.

Speaking at the 9th European Conference on Rehabilitation on 9 November 2010, Dr José Martin-Moreno, Director, Programme Management at WHO/Europe, explained that such guidelines help include people with disabilities in mainstream development efforts, both in the WHO European Region and around the world. He also presented the guidelines to Ms Anne Hawker, President of Rehabilitation International, before over 300 Conference delegates.

The guidelines were developed over the past six years by WHO, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC). IDDC’s members include the international Christian development organization CBM, Handicap International, the Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO), Light for the World, the Norwegian Association of Disabled and Sightsavers. Over 180 individuals and nearly 300 organizations around the world, mostly from low-income countries, also took part in developing the guidelines. European organizations played a major role in this work, to support and strengthen CBR programmes in the Region.


WHO has advocated CBR since the adoption of the Declaration of Alma-Ata on primary health care in 1978. CBR was initially promoted as a strategy to improve access to rehabilitation services for disabled people in low-income and middle-income countries by making optimum use of local resources. Over the past 30 years – through WHO’s collaboration with other United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations and disabled people’s organizations – CBR has evolved into a multisectoral strategy to address disabled people’s broader needs, ensure their participation in society and enhance their quality of life.