14.10.2019 CBM advocates for inclusion of persons with disabilities affected by disasters due to climate change

A girl affected by congenital cataract and a mental disability stands on a raised wood plank in her family's temporary shelter
A girl affected by congenital cataract and a mental disability lives with her family in a temporary shelter five years after Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines. ©CBM

Written jointly by Dr. Irmela Erdmann, Erly Occasiones and Dr. Manfred Mörchen

Persons with disabilities and other marginalised populations are increasingly affected by the impact of global climate change, such as natural disasters. CBM is therefore committed to assess and avoid potential negative impacts on the environment and to seek opportunities to enhance environmental sustainability, as outlined in CBM’s Programme Quality Framework.

During the last couple of days, CBM strongly advocated for better inclusion of people with disabilities related to disaster management. Erly Occasiones from CBM’s country office in the Philippines addressed governments of the Western Pacific Region during the 70th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee. The Philippines is one of five countries globally that have been most affected by extreme weather events in the last 20 years. CBM called for governments to ensure that the health and rehabilitation needs of persons with disabilities are included in the humanitarian response and disaster management of an increasing number of natural disasters related to climate change. The assembly and stakeholders, such as UNICEF, positively received CBM’s strong message. A copy of the statement can be retrieved here: Statement WHO Regional Assembly.

CBM’s office in Tanzania hosted the working group “Climate Action” of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB climate action working group). It is well known that “in terms of eye health, communities that are most susceptible to environmental degradation tend to carry some of the highest rates of avoidable and permanent blindness.” Representatives from a diverse group of stakeholders (Aravind Eye Hospital, Fred Hollows Foundation, Center for Sustainable Healthcare, New York University, Calabar University) pointed out that environmental responsibility needs to be an essential part of eye health programmes and universal health coverage. The group identified the following topics as relevant for eye health programmes: building design, energy efficiency, waste management, sustainable procurement, transport and eye health service delivery, among others.