OPN_190412- Riyadh at night gener Saudi Arabi
Riyadh at night: Arab Gulf people are no longer Bedouins wasting their wealth in the West Image Credit: Agency

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s lowest rates of people with disabilities among its population, at 8 per cent, a diagnostic assessment expert said.

Of those, 23 per cent have multiple disabilities and have intermediate education or above, and 60 per cent are married.

Official statistics put the Kingdom’s disability rate at 7% to 10%.

Around 15 per cent of the world’s population, or estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities. They are the world’s largest minority, according to the WHO.

This figure is increasing through population growth, medical advances and ageing, Dr. Bandar Al Muhaya, a diagnostic metrics researcher told Okaz.

On the most common causes of disability, Dr. Al Muhaya said some of the causes are congenital or as a result of complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

“A sample of 11 Arab countries showed that congenital factors account for less than half of the cases of disability, while accidents cause 16% of disabilities, followed by diseases (15%), then aging (12%). Accidents usually occur on the roads, in the workplace or even at home. Diseases include infections and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases,” the expert said.

He explained illnesses like cancer, heart attack or diabetes cause the majority of long-term disabilities. Back pain, injuries, and arthritis are also significant causes.

Lifestyle choices and personal behaviour that lead to obesity are becoming major contributing factors, the expert said.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the number one cause of disabilities. Examples include: arthritis, back pain, spine/joint disorders, fibromytis, etc, according to WHO.

Some 80 per cent people with disabilities live in developing countries, according to the UN Development Programme.

In countries with life expectancies over 70 years, individuals spend on average about 8 years, or 11.5 per cent of their life span, living with disabilities.

Disability rates are significantly higher among groups with lower educational attainment in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), says the OECD Secretariat. On average, 19 per cent of less educated people have disabilities, compared to 11 per cent among the better educated.

In most OECD countries, women report higher incidents of disability than men.

The World Bank estimates that 20 per cent of the world’s poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged.

Women with disabilities are recognised to be multiply disadvantaged, experiencing exclusion on account of their gender and their disability.