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June 13 @ 1:15 pm - June 13 @ 2:30 pm
UN Headquarter New York, NY 10017 United States

COSP17 side-event: Advancing health equity by bridging the digital divide for persons with disabilities

Organiser: PM Ireland, PM Qatar, International Telecommunication Union, World Health Organization, International Disability Alliance, International Disability and Development Consortium, Humanity & Inclusion, Sightsavers


Approximately 1.3 billion, or 1 in 6 people in the world, have significant disability. Many of them experience health inequities, such as earlier deaths or poorer health, due to avoidable and unfair conditions at health system and societal level. In recent years, the advancements of digital health technologies have provided means to an equitable access to health care and long-awaited opportunities for persons with disabilities to receive evidence-based health care comfortably in their own homes.

Different barriers in the access and use of digital health technologies, however, have created a “digital divide” faced by persons with disabilities and other marginalized populations. From inaccessible telehealth platforms, through lack of connectivity in remote areas, to unaffordability of services – the ‘digital divide’ exacerbates the health inequities that persons with disabilities face. Therefore, it is critical to upscale efforts to address the ‘digital divide’ for persons with disabilities and advance equity in health.

Join us at this side event, co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Ireland and Qatar, ITU, WHO, International Disability Alliance, International Disability and Development Consortium, Humanity & Inclusion and Sightsavers, to discuss the importance of making digital health services inclusive for persons with disabilities. The event will bring together perspectives from different stakeholders, including Member States, organizations of persons with disabilities, UN agencies and civil society, on the potential solutions to bridge the ‘digital divide’ and advance health equity for persons with disabilities.

Speakers include:

  • Honorable Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State at the Department of Health and at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Government of Ireland
  • Her Excellency Shaikha bint Jassim Al-Thani, Assistant Undersecretary for Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Development and Family, Qatar
  • Amber Shuhyta, Assistant Secretary – Allied Health & Service Integration, Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Heba Hagrass, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities
  • Kaloyan Kamenov, Technical Officer, Disability Programme, World Health Organization
  • Francesca Cesa Bianchi, VP, Institutional Relations and Advocacy, G3ict, Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs
  • Ursula Wynhoven, Director and Representative to the United Nations/Head of UN Affairs, ITU
  • Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, Chairperson, United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Global Advocacy Manager (Social Inclusion), Sightsavers
  • Marijke de Pauw, Inclusive Governance Specialists, Humanity & Inclusion
  • Seta Macanawai, CEO of the Pacific Disability Forum

Sign language interpretation and closed captioning will be provided at the event.

Concept Note and Agenda