International Day for Persons with Disabilities 2021

Women gather for their weekly meeting at Ashmann, an organisation supported by CBM and its local partner Codas Caritas in Cameroon.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), also known as World Disability Day is observed on 3 December each year. This day aims to promote awareness of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

On this day we highlight the contribution that men, women and children with disabilities make to their families, communities and societies – and highlight the benefits for everyone of greater inclusion. 

This year, let’s take a walk down memory lane and see how CBM’s work around the world is helping alleviate human suffering, providing not just medical interventions but also access to education and livelihood opportunities.  

Achievements in Community-Based Inclusive Development

This year, we launched an Innovation Fund to celebrate and encourage the ingenuity of people we work with and the power of community. This fund provides a space for creative thinking about social innovation with practical impact on the lives of persons with disabilities in their communities.

CBM in India has worked alongside the Indian Government to develop a national competency-based training programme for field workers in CBID.  

CBM also contributed to the World Community Development Conference and showcased how CBID ensures people with disabilities are respected and included in their communities on an equal basis in all areas of life. 

CBM Zimbabwe Country Director, Ms. Deborah Tigere bagged two awards this year - ‘Woman Director of the Year-NGO’ and ‘Director of the year-NGO and Civil Society Organisations’. 

Additionally, CBM has also been selected by the United Nations (UN) to undertake a comprehensive assessment on the UN’s level of disability inclusion in their systems in Zimbabwe. 

We also contributed to the first ever World Report on Hearing earlier this year. The Report focusses on explaining why hearing matters and the impact of hearing loss, and then designs the way forward by proposing interventions for implementation to promote ear and hearing care.

Key wins for Inclusive Eye Health

Afor, an ophthalmic nurse examines 3-year-old Arnold's eyes. Arnold has bilateral cataracts and is undergoing treatment thanks to CBM's local partner in Cameroon.


A mass drug administration (MDA) to fight trachoma in Yemen has restarted this year. Launched in 2018, it was temporarily on-hold due to civil unrest and then the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A programme for the treatment for lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis has reached parts of South Sudan which have not hitherto benefited from drug interventions. 

Earlier this year the Lancet Commission Report was launched and highlighted that improving eye health has immediate and significant benefits worldwide.  

Furthermore, results of a trial published in Lancet Global Health in October this year could pave the way for significant improvements in treatment for glaucoma in Sub-Saharan Africa

This year, Dr. Babar Qureshi (Director of Inclusive Eye Health at CBM) was appointed Vice President to the board of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). 

Reaching poor and marginalised communities through our work in Humanitarian Action

In the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in May 2021, CBM provided immediate aid, supporting earthquake victims with disabilities and their families in particular. 

Have a look at our work in India and Bangladesh providing relief aid to those affected by cyclone Amphan. 

CBM is also involved in many humanitarian projects in disaster-prone countries which place persons with disabilities at the centre of disaster preparedness and response

Witness CBM’s global impact through these personal stories

29-year-old Nirmala (right) examines children with disabilities living in remote communities and provides information on appropriate intervention and rehabilitation options. Seen here is 13-year-old Bindu (centre) who has clubfoot, and is accompanied by her grandmother (left).


Nirmala Puri from Nepal is a rehabilitation worker working with children with disabilities in remote communities.  

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we are reaching millions living in remote, river communities via boat, to ensure access to vital drugs for the prevention of NTDs. 

In war-torn Cameroon, Esung Elizabeth Mbende works as a humanitarian worker at the frontline of the conflict, reaching thousands of people with disabilities. 

In Uganda, we are helping Dr. Nizeyimana’s dream come true through the provision of a CBM grant to continue her studies in ophthalmology.  

In Tanzania, Dr. Mchikirwa Msina is one of very few ophthalmologists who can operate on children with cataracts. 

For 20 years, Katharina Pförtner (recently retired CBM Global and Regional Advisor for Latin America) campaigned for inclusion in Latin America on behalf of CBM. She remains a lifelong advocate for inclusion. 

In Thailand, thanks to the work of CBM and local partners, Paew is a community leader assisting people with disabilities and improving their social participation at local community levels. 

Still a long way ahead

Together we have made great progress towards an inclusive world, but there is still much to do. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many persons with disabilities are still left behind. This is particularly true for persons living in low- and middle-income countries, where there is a vicious cycle of poverty and disability. 

More than ever, CBM is committed to breaking this cycle of poverty and disability. We will continue to work alongside persons with disabilities in poor communities in order to realise our vision of an inclusive world in which all persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.