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The University of Southampton

New position for Professor Alarcos Cieza at the World Health Organisation

Published: 21 August 2014
Professor Alarcos Cieza

Professor Cieza has been appointed Leader and Coordinator of the Disability and Rehabilitation (DAR) Team at Department of Violence, Injury Prevention and Disability at the World Health Organisation. In the United Nations system, this position is the highest administrative level of operation, and directly answerable to the Departmental Director, who is accountable to the director general Margaret Chan.

Alarcos will be entirely responsible for the disability component of WHO worldwide activities. She will be responsible to coordinate the implementation of the WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021: Better health for all people with disabilities.

Her responsibilities will be to:

  • raise awareness about the magnitude and consequences of disability;
  • facilitate data collection and analyse or disseminate disability-related data and information;
  • support, promote and strengthen health and rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities and their families;
  • promote Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR);
  • promote the development, production, distribution and servicing of assistive health technology;
  • support the development, implementation, measuring and monitoring of policies to improve the rights and opportunities for people with disabilities;
  • build capacity among health and rehabilitation policy makers and service providers;
  • and foster multisectoral networks and partnerships in and outside WHO, in and among countries.

In her new post Alarcos is committed

  • to foster a universal approach to disability, based on which disability is understood as a universal experience relevant to all human beings. Every person with a health condition or engaged in the aging process will experience decrements in functioning or disability
  • to promote the view that disability is a public health and development issue. With 15% of the world’s population experiencing high levels of disability, countries must address the needs of this group so as to contribute to the development of low income countries and to achieve effective public health interventions to continue working in the field of mental health, collaborating closely with the Department of Mental Health at WHO to make visible the high level of burden of disability that persons with mental disorders experience.

Alarcos’ new appointment is a great opportunity for our psychology students, who will have the opportunity through internships to learn and put into practice research skills at WHO. Students will be able to experience the great variety of opportunities that psychology studies offers and gain work experience in an international and multi-professional context.



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