Trinity Global Health Expert Speaks before United Nations Commission for Social Development

Posted on: 23 March 2012

Trinity College Dublin’s Professor of Psychology, Malcolm MacLachlan of the Centre for Global Health was recently invited to speak before the United Nations Commission for Social Development,  where he gave a  presentation entitled ‘Community Based Rehabilitation and Inclusive Health: A Way Forward’.

The World Report on Disability (2011) estimates that 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, have a disability, with 80% of those living in low-income countries. Professor MacLachlan’s presentation identified some of the challenges to the inclusion of people with disabilities in international development cooperation policy and programming.  It drew in particular on the work of the Irish Aid/Health Research Board funded African Policy on Disability and Development project in which Trinity’s Centre for Global Health is the lead partner.  This project has identified policy-gaps that need to be addressed and specific actions that could promote the effectiveness of civil society advocacy for the inclusion of people with disabilities.  These challenges include stigma, competition between aid stakeholders with different agendas, and the divergence between disabled people’s organisations.

Also at a policy level, Professor MacLachlan outlined the need for health and social welfare policy to be socially inclusive of marginalised and vulnerable groups.  It referred to the recently developed EquiFrame methodology which has been developed through the FP7 funded EquitAble Project also led by Trinity (

A third area which he addressed was the human resources constraints on applying the recently developed ‘Guidelines for Community Based Rehabilitation’ to which Trinity’s Centre for Global Health also contributed. The Centre is playing a leading role in addressing this challenge through a new global initiative on Inclusive development which includes the training of a new cadre of health workers, working across traditional professional boundaries, at community level.  This initiative partners the Centre with the World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation, the International Disability and Development Consortium (of civil society organisations) and SINTEF, a Norwegian SME. Recent papers in Lancet and Tropical Medicine & International Health outline elements of this initiative.  Professor MacLachlan’s presentation to the UN was an opportunity to inform a broader range of aid donors and development partners of this venture.

Along with the Centre for Global Health’s input in key policy documents, it is also conducting the third phase of the Equitable Project, analysing a database of over forty thousand people across Sudan, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. This database will help contribute to reinforcing an evidence-based ethos for policy and practice for some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the world.

The work of the Inclusive Health research programme within the Centre for Global Health is being undertaken by Professor Mac MacLachlan, Dr Hasheem Mannan and Joanne McVeigh  all of  the School of Psychology, and Professor Eilish McAuliffe of the School of Medicine, in conjunction with government, civil society, practitioner and research partners across ten African countries.  It also includes research students in the Centre led International Doctoral School in Global Health.