People with disability experience poorer health than their non-disabled peers and face widespread barriers in accessing services. The prevalence of disability in Member States of the WHO European Region, ranges from 4% to 21% where between 6 to 10 people lived with disability for every 100 people. With the ageing population and the rising prevalence due to noncommunicable conditions including injuries, this number is set to increase in the Region.

This is an important area for WHO/Europe in view of the focus on equity, social justice, health systems strengthening, governance and the whole of society approach, principles which are underpinned by Health 2020.

In May 2013, the Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA66.9 on disability endorsing the World Health Organization and World Bank 2011 "World report on disability". The resolution requests the Director-General to prepare a comprehensive WHO action plan based on the evidence in the report, and in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the report of the High-level Meeting on Disability and Development (23 September 2013). The overall goal of the action plan is to contribute to achieving health, well-being and human rights for persons with disabilities.

A draft WHO Action Plan 2014 – 2021 "Better Health for Persons with Disabilities" has been developed. After conducting regional consultations the plan is set for adoption by the World Health Assembly in May 2014.  The plan has 3 main objectives: 1) to remove barriers and improve access to health services and programmes; 2) to strengthen and extend rehabilitation, habilitation, assistive technology, assistance and support services, and community based rehabilitation; 3) to strengthen collection of relevant and internationally comparable data on disability and strengthen research on disability and related services.