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There are effective treatments for most psychosocial disabilities, and most of them can be delivered in primary care settings
Read about CBM and community mental health

Disability & Development work

Mona, from Jordan, has spina bifida. She is attending school in CBM partner  organisation the Al Hussein Society in Amman, where she is also receiving physiotherapy.
© CBM
Mona, from Jordan, has spina bifida. She is attending school in CBM partner organisation the Al Hussein Society in Amman, where she is also receiving physiotherapy.

The challenge

With its partner organisations, CBM seeks to build and promote an inclusive world in which all persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential. This is to be achieved in three ways:
  • Together with partner organisations, CBM supports health care for existing disabilities and prevention of conditions which can lead to disability.
  • CBM seeks to improve access to health care, education and rehabilitation services for persons with visual, hearing, physical or psychosocial impairments.
  • CBM aims to mainstream disability into all aspects of development and empower persons with disabilities to take an active role in their communities through inclusion in development projects and involvement in community initiatives.

What is disability? Advocacy and the Human Rights dimension

Child with disability in mainstream school, Yaounde, Cameroon. ©CBM / Argum / Einberger
Child with disability in mainstream school, Yaounde, Cameroon
According to a DPI Position Paper, disability can be understood as "the outcome of the interaction between a person with an impairment and the environmental and attitudinal barriers he or she may face"

The definition of disability has shifted over recent decades.

Disability was traditionally understood as an individual’s impairment - medical problem or health condition - which needed treatment.

This left the problem with the individual. For example, if a person had a hearing impairment, this was a disability that needed to be 'fixed' and the attitudes to that person were often ones of pity or a need for charity.

It is now recognised that disability is just as much or more about how society puts up barriers that exclude and disadvantage people with impairments by not recognising their rights, needs and potentials.

This means that the problem is with all of society and we all have a role in breaking down prejudice towards persons with disabilities.

For example, a person with a hearing impairment may be disabled by the attitude of others thinking that the person needs to be fixed rather than trying to find ways of including persons with disabilities by finding other ways to communicate.

Commmunity-based approach

Outreach exercise in Biharwe, Uganda ©CBM
Outreach exercise in Biharwe, Uganda
If the full impact of poverty on the lives of persons with disabilities, their families, and their environment is to be addressed, then a comprehensive community-based approach is necessary.

This must include health care interventions, education, rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood development.

CBM promotes service developments which are accessible to all people, particularly the poorest. Therefore CBM works proactively with its Partners to break down barriers which prevent people accessing services.

These barriers include poverty, lack of education, gender, religion, age, social stigma and geographic isolation.

CBM prioritises services that improve the lives of children and women and take environmental issues into account


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