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Stark difference in Census figures on disability in U.S. and Bangladesh

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The comparison between Census figures on disability of Bangladesh and the United States (U.S.) hasonce again raised the issue of underestimation of the disabled population in most developing countries. The U.S. Census Bureau has said that in 2012, 18.7 percent of the country’s population or, 56.7 million people were reported to be affected with disability. In contrast, the 5th Population and Housing Census of 2011 in Bangladesh says that only 1.4 percent of the country’s population has a disability.

The total population of U.S. is around 315 million and that of Bangladesh is around 152 million.

What is also disturbing is the fact that last year, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (B.B.S.) Household Income Expenditure Surveyhad found that 9.07 percent of the population was affected with a disability. This disparity underlines the importance of accurate enumeration of people with disabilities worldwide, especially in the developing world where 80 percent of the global disabled population is estimated to be.

World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and the World Bank in 2011 had said that 15 percent of the world’s population is affected with disability. However, in most developing countries where the prevalence of disability may be more than most developed countries, the official figures do not reflect this. Factors such as narrow questions, untrained enumerators and the question not even being asked, lead to underestimation.

National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) and Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) had worked very closely with the Census Commission for enumeration of people with disabilities in India’s Population Census of 2011. The data on disability is expected to be released by the end of this year or early next year. It is hoped that the 2011 Census would accurately reflect the disability statistics of the country.