Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) is “a strategy within general community development for the rehabilitation, equalization of opportunities, and social inclusion of all people with disabilities” (WHO, ILO & UNESCO, 2004). CBR focuses on the full participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities within every domain of their community. It empowers the persons with disabilities and supports them to overcome physical and sociological barriers. CBR is implemented through the combined efforts of persons with disabilities, their families and communities, and relevant government and non-government health, education, vocational, social and other services.
CBR addresses five key components: health, education, livelihood, socials and empowerment. However, upon implementing CBR not all components need to be included. It can be dependent on the situation and its specific needs. The components are not sequential, but can rather be used as a sort of pick and mix.
CBR is a strategy for disability-inclusive development. By linking relevant resources and services in the community and facilities and services offered by the government, the rehabilitation needs and needs related to exclusion of persons affected by NTDs can be addressed.
For which NTDs is this relevant?
CBR is relevant for all NTDs that lead to disabilities and/or social exclusion.
The strategies and interventions used in CBR are mostly generic and applicable across all NTDs. CBR programs are ideally not separate programs, but network activities. They should offer assistance to any person with disabilities, but access to specific services, e.g. hydrocele surgery or education with materials in braille, will depend on the availability of such services in the area. The awareness of CBR and what it can offer should be disseminated in NTD programs. However, the aim should be that persons with NTD-related disabilities are included in general CBR programs, rather than developing CBR services with NTD programs.
The Christian Blind Mission (CBM), an example of an organization in CBR, is committed to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities by supporting NTD control programs of the five major NTDs (i.e. trachoma, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths). They are determined to include CBR and eye health activities within these NTD programs.