‘The highest attainable standard’: The right to health for refugees with disabilities

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Societies, 2019, 9 (2)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) creates duties for States Parties and UN agencies to ensure that individuals under their protection have equal enjoyment of the full range of human rights. This includes the Article 25 right to enjoy ‘the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability.’ However, refugees, who are forced to seek protection outside their state, face particular obstacles to maintaining an adequate level of wellbeing and accessing services to meet their health needs. Among this group, those who have a disability may confront multiple intersecting challenges. This paper draws on the findings of research across countries that play host to significant refugee populations. It explores the contribution of the CRPD to the international human rights framework for refugees, with particular attention to the right to health. Incorporating evidence from the field, it discusses the implementation of these rights and related duties in humanitarian responses across the world. The article discusses common barriers to health services for refugees with disabilities in six host countries. Based on the broad conceptualization of health and wellbeing established in the international legal framework, it also examines the relationship between the fulfilment of Article 25 and other basic socioeconomic rights. It provides examples of good practice and identifies strategies to better ensure the rights set out in Article 25 of the CRPD.
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