Disability information and statistics for Mexico and the seven countries that make up Central America.
Central America has an area of 524,000 square kilometers (202,000 sq mi), or almost 0.1% of the Earth's surface. As of 2009, its population was estimated at 41,739,000.
Central America is currently undergoing a process of political, economic and cultural transformation that started in 1907 with the creation of the Central American Court of Justice. In 1951 the integration process continued with the signature of the San Salvador Treaty, which created the ODECA, the Organization of Central American States. However, the unity of the ODECA was limited by conflicts between several member states.
Mexico, officially known as the United Mexican States, is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2 million square kilometers (over 760,000 sq mi), Mexico is the fifth-largest country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest independent nation in the world. With an estimated population of 111 million, it is the 11th most populous country and the most populous Hispanophone country on Earth.
According to the general census of population and housing in the year 2000; there was 1,795,000 people with a disability in Mexico, which represents 1.8% of the population. Only 15% of people with a disability between the ages of 15 and 29 have an education. The legal standing of disability rights in Mexico is contradictory. A Federal Act for Persons with Disabilities is currently under legislative consideration, and Mexico has been very active in United Nations attempts to create a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. However, much current legislation lacks regulations, and compliance is a problem. Moreover, awareness of disability rights is low among both people with and without disabilities.
The government generally respects the human rights of its citizens. Human rights problems include brutality and the use of excessive force by security forces, which the government in most cases takes steps to prosecute. Lengthy pretrial detention remains a problem. Domestic violence, discrimination against women, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in persons for sexual and labor exploitation, and child labor are also problems in Belize.
Special education has been part of the Costa Rican public education system for more than 60 years. Approximately 10% of the 75,000 students who receive special services have a severe disability; however, there is a chronic shortage of personnel trained to educate students with significant educational needs.
El Salvador is one of 34 countries to have ratified the CRPD. The CRPD is the first international, legally-binding treaty to protect the human rights of people with disabilities. It protects many different human rights including: the right to healthcare and to informed consent in health services; the right to procreate and to obtain contraceptives; the right to education; the right to live with one's own family in the community; and many more. However, women born with disabilities are still shunned, imprisoned in their homes, sexually and physically abused, and left to live their lives at the discretion of the economic resources of the family.
In Guatemala special education and rehabilitation were started in the private sector by parents and charitable groups. Responsibility for such programs has shifted somewhat in recent years with governments sharing in program development and operation. Guatemala, Central America's most heavily populated country, offers a prime example of this shift to a more balanced public-private sharing of responsibility for improving the lives of disabled people. How one third world nation, such as Guatemala, responds to its citizens with disability may be significant for understanding disability in developing countries worldwide and could lead to a theory of social response to disability.
Estimates suggest there are almost 700,000 persons with disabilities living in Honduras, which is equivalent to 10% of the population. The 2002 survey recorded 177,516 persons in Honduras as having a disability, but the definition used was rather narrow. 68% of those covered by the census were unemployed (compared to 49% for the total population), 53% were illiterate, 44% of children with disabilities did not have access to school (compared to 8% for non-disabled children), and only 17% of people with disabilities received any kind of rehabilitation. Despite the existence of a new legal framework for disability (October 2005), there has been no genuine implementation of this law.
The main health determinant for Nicaraguans is poverty. 20% of children aged less than 5 years of age are chronically malnourished. The Nicaraguan study on disability in 2003 found that chronic conditions were responsible for 67% of disability followed by 12.2% for accidents. In looking at causes of disability 67% of blindness in Nicaragua is related to chronic conditions and old age. Other large health problems are mental health with 27.9% of the total population with a specific mental disability, 10.3% of the population over 6 years of age has some form of physical disability and 9% of deaths in women are due to cancer. In Nicaragua, Handicap International assists disability stakeholders and promotes the rights of people with disabilities. It is also involved in inclusive education and disability prevention activities (preventing diabetes in general population and preventing disability in children aged 0-5 years old).
Unfortunately, Panama does not have specific statistical studies documenting how many persons have disabilities and what type of disabilities. Until quite recently, there was virtually no accessibility for persons with disabilities in public institutions or private buildings, including places of commercial activity. In December 2002, President of Panama Mireya Mocoso signed Executive Decree No. 88 modifying Law No. 42, to strengthen the foundations of equal opportunities for persons with disabilities, particularly in the area of access to work.