Open letter to the World Health Organisation

Inclusion International is a member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA). IDA is an alliance of 14 global and regional organisations of persons with disabilities. We advocate at the United Nations for a more inclusive global environment for everyone.

What happened?
On April 1, The International Disability Alliance issued an open letter to the Director General of the World Health Organisation in response to the #COVID19 pandemic. Read our open letter to the Director General of the World Health Organisation in response to the #COVID19 pandemic.

“We are receiving information on discriminatory treatment of persons with disabilities when accessing emergency services…. We are aware that criteria such as ‘dependency’ and ‘frailty’ are used in several contexts to deny treatment, reflecting that the lives of persons with disabilities are less of a priority than others.

The International Disability Alliance urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to:

  • Take immediate action condemning any form of disability‐based or age‐based prioritisation in providing COVID‐19 medical care;
  • Encourage all governments to act immediately and to the maximum of their available resources to ensure that no person is denied access to COVID‐19 vital medical care as well as life‐saving equipment or medicine on the basis of age and/or disability;
  • Deliver medical treatment triage decision‐making criteria in full compliance with the principles of humanity including equal dignity and non‐discrimination for all.”

Read the full letter:

What has been the response?


  • The Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has issued the following Tweet yesterday: “Thank you, @IDA_CRPD_Forum, for your urgent letter & strong collaboration with @WHO. #COVID19 poses a global threat & people with #disability must not be left behind in the response. All people need to be protected, regardless of whether or not they experience disability.”
  • He continued by stating: “.@WHO  joins @IDA_CRPD_Forum’s call on governments to ensure that their #COVID19 response is inclusive of people with #disability, that they are not discriminated against in medical decision-making, and that their rights are protected.”
  • He also shared the WHO’s Disability considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

What can I do?


  • IDA sees this as acknowledgement from the WHO to recognise that persons with disabilities should not be discriminated against in the COVID19 response, and as explicit condemnation against practices that discriminate. We encourage our partners to use this step forward in your advocacy and messaging purposes.
  • You can access the tweet and its thread here and share it with your networks.
  • Let us know if you have been using the letter in your advocacies and if you have accomplished impact with your National
    Ministries of Health! We will collate and use these as impact examples! You can let us know by email to