There are different ways to collect data on disability with the Washington Group questionnaire
Approaches to data disaggregation can be found, but need to be tested. Data collectors in small primary health centres can spend a lot more time with patients to ask questions and ensure confidentiality; this is not the case in a busy hospital setting. We are currently exploring other approaches for the hospital setting to test how to avoid issues such as delay and lack of confidentiality.
Integrating the Washington Group questionnaire in existing tools is cost effective
Experience from the pilot shows that to avoid increasing costs and workload, it is essential to integrate the six questions into existing facility processes. Involving stakeholders and data collectors in the design of the tool and translation of the questionnaire increases buy-in and ownership.
Patients with disabilities feel empowered and seek treatment
When asked about their health, patients become keen to talk about their condition and ask where they can seek treatment. Data collectors reported that they are enjoying working with the questionnaire as it allows them to identify persons with disabilities and give them information about existing services they did not know about. One clinic staff member reported: “We are enjoying working with the questionnaire and it is a part of the project that we [are] running now so when we [are] asking the questions patients feel like they are taken care of and that we are here to help them.”
Data collectors become aware of the issues faced by persons with disabilities
Programme managers all reported positive change in attitude towards people with disabilities following the training and recommended having refresher training every six months to share their experiences.
Data on disability can initiate change
When looking at the data, vision centres in India noticed that fewer people with disabilities than they expected were using the service. They are now raising awareness of the service in the community and making sure people with disabilities are aware they can access services and have a right to treatment.
In summary, we believe the SDGs, with their mantra to ‘leave no one behind’, must ensure people with disabilities are included in development efforts. The new agenda currently promises to include people with disabilities, but without effective monitoring systems there is a risk that they will miss out on development progress and on their chance to contribute more effectively to the development of their societies.
At Sightsavers we believe that disability disaggregation of data could be a small investment that brings long-term change.
By Dominic Haslam, Director of Policy and Programme Strategy at Sightsavers