Households with disabled people    
A total of 70,261 people in 65,015 households in the Lao PDR are reported as having a disability. This comprises about 8% of all households and about 1.3% of the total population. When compared to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) estimate that up to 10% of a population will have a disability, these figures for the Lao PDR appear to be very low. However it should be remembered that there is no nationally recognised classification of disability. This has an influence on the general population’s understanding of what a disability really is and what its causes are. Preconceptions about what are normal deviations may also play a part in the patterns of reporting.

The following maps present the main focus of this atlas namely the spatial patterns of the current distribution and, in this case, the distribution of disabled people. Map E.3 shows two indicators for measuring the number of households with disabled people. The first of these, the percentages of households with disabled people in each village, is illustrated by colour shadings ranging from less than 5% to more than 20% of all households.  This allows comparisons to be made across the country. The second indicator, the total number of households with disabled people, is shown by red dots; -with each dot representing five households with disabled people.

As expected the total number of households with a disabled person mostly match those areas where the population density is higher (compare with Map B.2). Apart from the fact that the presence of more people will result in a higher concentration of households with disabled people, it is also possible that people with disabilities looking for support migrate towards urban centres.

The shaded areas indicating the prevalence of households with disabled people show quite a heterogeneous pattern across the country with a tendency towards lower percentages in Vientiane capital, Savannakhet and Pakxe. Bearing in mind that the most probable cause of disability is related to birth (see Map E.5) then it is possible that better access to health facilities may decrease these rates.

Some remote areas are most interesting, where despite a low population density there are both high percentages and high numbers of households with disabled people. This is most evident in Xiengkhuang, the northeast of Huaphanh, and the eastern tips of Saravane and Sekong. These are also the areas worst affected by UXO contamination. The National Regulatory Authority (NRA) has correlated these data with USAF bombing data. Identifying and supporting people with disabilities can be challenging in remote areas. Links between disability and poverty are already established and it is likely that remoteness of location and presence of UXO are also factors. In terms of policy, classifying disability would be an important step which could improve the quality of data collection and, therefore, planning of appropriate services. Any classification should take into account approaches which support the burgeoning government policies regarding the inclusion of people with disabilities into mainstream education and employment.



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