Failing up: strengthening health systems by learning from those left behind during the COVID-19 pandemic

Experts from academia, civil society, and multilateral institutions discuss the opportunity to build disability-inclusive health systems by learning from the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Research event
27 May 2021 — 1:00PM TO 2:00PM

Many countries are not providing quality health services for people with disabilities. Furthermore, few countries’ health systems gather data disaggregated by disability. This makes it difficult to craft and advance measures that ensure people with disabilities have access to the health services they need.

While barriers to access and lack of data are not new, national COVID-19 pandemic responses have made the effects of these challenges painfully clear. The failure to provide disability-inclusive responses has put people with intellectual disabilities at higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

Despite their higher risk, people with intellectual disabilities have been largely overlooked in discussions about which populations should receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Organized in partnership with Special Olympics, this event:

  • Shares what little data exists about the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities
  • Highlights the experience of disability activists
  • Explores opportunities to ‘fail up’ or course-correct from the disability-marginalizing response to COVID-19 to create strong, disability-inclusive health systems.

This event features International Sign Language interpretation, British Sign Language Interpretation and live closed captioning.


Professor Hannah Kuper, Director of the International Centre for Evidence in Disability, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Arman Ali, Executive Director, Disability Activist and Executive Director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)

Rob Yates, Executive Director, Centre for Universal Health, Chatham House 

Co-Chair: Kiera BylandSpecial Olympics Athlete Leader, Chair of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia (SOEE) Athlete Input Council, Vice chair of Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) Athlete Leadership Team (ALT)

Co-Chair: Nina van der Mark, Research Analyst, Centre for Universal Health, Chatham House

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