Aim: A cluster randomized cross-sectional survey to assess the prevalence of disability and access to support services was conducted in Albay Province, the Philippines in April 2016.
Method: The population-based survey methodologies developed by the Washington Group of the United Nations Statistical Commission and UNICEF were utilized. A sample of 70 barangays (the 3rd level administrative division in the Philippines) was selected as clusters, with probability proportional to size, and 30 households were selected randomly in each barangay to be surveyed.
Results: The estimated prevalence of disability using the standard criteria of the Washington Group and UNICEF among children (2-17 years old) was 2.0% and for adults (≥18 years old) it was 6.5%. The estimated prevalence of disability was higher in rural than in urban areas. Deficiencies in the performance of existing services were identified; access by children with disabilities to support services was lowest in rural highland and rural plain barangays.
Conclusions: There was a large unmet demand for support services addressing the needs of persons with disabilities in Albay Province, especially in rural highland areas. Persons with disabilities were disadvantaged in access to education and employment; many had not been educated in their basic rights.
Implications: To identify, educate and fully support persons with disabilities, community-based rehabilitation (CBR), health and other rehabilitation services must communicate effectively with each other, their current work should be mapped and analysed, their comparative strengths identified, and their future work coordinated. It is a priority to educate persons with disabilities and their families about their rights, and facilitate their access to support services; this requires increased investment in communication targeting persons with disabilities and the communities, especially rural. Providers caring for persons with disabilities need to work in partnership to identify unreached persons with disabilities. Prevalence surveys, with stronger focus on the profiles and performance of CBR and related services, would add to the evidence-base to improve the quality and coverage of services for persons with disabilities.