LSTM Seminar Series: The Social Determinants of Health and Disability

News article 17 Apr 2013
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LSTM’s seminar series continued today with a presentation by Dr Raymond Lang, Honorary Senior Research Associate from the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre, University College London.

The seminar, introduced by Dr Sally Theobald, gave a stimulating and illuminating presentation on “Conceptualising the linkages between the Social Determinants of Health and Disability”. Dr Lang has been researching disability, health and development issues for over 20 years and has worked on a number of research projects and policy initiatives in a range of contexts. His most recent work has been on the synergies between the social determinants of health agenda and disability policy and practice.

Dr Lang started with a whistle-stop tour of some of the key concepts and ideas around disability research, policy and practice, providing insights into the roots of the international disability movement as well as an overview of the key legislation, including the 2008 human rights declaration on the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He then moved on to outline the key concepts of the Social Determinants of Health framework, arguing that while the Commission on the Social determinants of Health had overlooked disability in its global report, there is a critical need to understand and explore the linkages and synergies between social determinants of health framework and disability policy and practice.

His analysis of these synergies and complementarities drew on the Commission’s six policy objectives to forcefully demonstrate the significance of taking disability into account in order to meaningfully fulfil those objectives.  He concluded with a brief reflection on the commonalities between the agendas of the social determinants of health approach and disability policy and practice especially in terms of their attention to equity to health services and recognition of human rights. Given demographic projections, an ageing population and the detrimental effects of climate change Dr Lang powerfully argues that the potential for collaboration between these two agendas will only increase with time.

Dr Lang has been working in the disability and development sector for the past fifteen years. His research interests include Community-Based Rehabilitation, mainstreaming disability into generic development programmes, the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, and policy in practice within the disability and development sector. He has also contributed to the submission to the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs regarding "Realising the Millennium Development Goals for Persons with Disability towards 2015 and Beyond". He has been a regular visiting lecturer on LSTM’s Masters in International Public Health teaching programme over the past few years, inspiring a number of students to develop research proposals with a focus on disability issues.