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Strengthen disability prevention and promote health for all

Source: Updated: 2021-09-18
Zhang Haidi, chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation. [photo/]

Zhang Haidi, chairperson of the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF), urged for better disability prevention in conjunction with the 5th Disability Prevention Day celebrations.

In an article she published on People’s Daily, a major national newspaper, she said that China has a disabled population of over 85 million with an annual increase of over 2 million. It is imperative to strengthen disability prevention, as health concerns the happiness of all households. As emphasized by the central leadership, Party committees and governments at all levels need to attach high importance to disability undertakings. Disability prevention, reduction of the occurrence and evolvement of disability and the pain brought by disability, and relieving the hardships of the disabled population and their families, are important parts of disability work, as well as practical action in fulfilling the concept of "people first and life first".

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have attached great importance to disability prevention. Over the last five years, through implementation of policies such as the National Action Plan on Disability Prevention (2016-20) and the Regulations on Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities, disabilities caused by genetic development, illnesses and injuries have been effectively controlled, disabilities caused by poliomyelitis, leprosy and iodine deficiency have been basically eliminated, and disabilities caused by cataract and drug-induced deafness have been greatly reduced. Coverage of basic rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities has been increasing and significant progress has been achieved in disability prevention, she said.

The practice of the last five years has shown that the establishment of disability prevention awareness for all people for the full life cycle is vital, and the community and family-based three-tiered disability prevention model with tier-one prevention as the mainstay is an effective model. However, the risk of disability caused by chronic diseases, birth defects and developmental disorders, accidental injuries, functional decline of the elderly and mental health is witnessing a significant increase. Disability prevention is facing new pressure and challenges during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period. 

Zhang said preventive medical science is an important part of modern medical science. Disability can be prevented and disability prevention is an effective health investment and strategy in economic and social development. To implement people-centered development, disability prevention must be emphasized and strengthened in order to protect people’s lives to the maximum degree, enhance their health and create a life with health and security.

First, the working mechanism must be improved. Disability prevention is an important link and a basic part of health service. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the working mechanism that is led by Party committees, responsible by the governments, and with social coordination and public participation, must be adhered to. The disciplinary advantages of medicine, economy, law and society should be applied in order to promote new and greater achievements in disability prevention.

Second, public awareness of disability prevention must be enhanced. Disability is a risk faced by all people. Extensive promotions and education on disability prevention on occasions such as Disability Prevention Day, Eye Care Day, Ear Care Day, Birth Defect Prevention Day and Mental Health Day should be carried out to target key groups such as children, youth, newlyweds, pregnant women and high-risk occupational practitioners so as to enhance their ability to prevent disability.

Third, key prevention projects must be implemented. Key prevention projects concerning major disability factors such as chronic diseases, birth defects and accidental injuries should be implemented to improve comprehensive prevention and control capacity on disability risks and rehabilitation conditions for the disabled.  Upholding the children-first principle, the prevention of birth defects, neonatal disease screening, and disability screening for children aged between 0 and 6, and rehabilitation assistance for disabled children should be improved.

She also urged to improve the ability and level of early detection, early intervention and early rehabilitation. A national strategy to actively respond to the aging population should be implemented to improve the accessibility of health services for the elderly so that more elderly people can enjoy life at old age. More efforts should be made on the prevention of mental disorders and rehabilitation services, social work services and individual crisis intervention so as to create an inclusive and friendly social environment and provide a happy life.

Fourth, talent incubation must be accelerated. Fostering high-quality professionals is a key task in the future development of rehabilitation undertakings. The CDPF is working on building a high starting-point, high-level and international University of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, promoting the establishment of a national key laboratory for rehabilitation, accelerating related basic research and the incubation of professionals, in a bid to provide strong support for disability prevention and rehabilitation.

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