Editors: Charles E. Drum, MPA, JD, PhD; Gloria L. Krahn, PhD, MPH; Hank Bersani, Jr., PhD
Washington, D.C. – July 27, 2009 — Fifty million people in the United States — or nearly one in five residents — experience some form of disability. Worldwide, about 10 percent of the population has a disability. While preventing disability has been the primary focus of public health, a new book points to a new approach that also looks at disability as a risk factor for other health challenges.
Disability and Public Health, published by the American Public Health Association and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, demonstrates the importance of integrating disability into the broader public health mission. It suggests that mounting a coordinated public health response to disability is of utmost importance and has been neglected in the past.
“Preventing disability has been the historical perspective, but disability will always be with us, and we need to figure out how to promote the health and improve the quality of life of people already living with disabilities,” said Gloria Krahn, PhD, MPH, director of the Division of Human Development and Disability at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and one of the book’s editors.
People with disabilities have very high levels of unemployment, live in complex social and physical environments, and have much poorer health compared with the general population. Disability is an indicator of poorer health behaviors and greater difficulty accessing health care and health promotion. The book suggests that public health professionals can help to spotlight this issue and work to eliminate such disparities.
“Disability and Public Health provides a thorough introduction and historical overview of disability issues for public health professionals,” said editor Charles Drum, MPA, JD, PhD, associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University. “It provides a conceptual roadmap for the public health mandate to promote the health and improve the quality of life of persons who already experience disability. Disability does not have to be equivalent to ill health.”
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