Persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) are frequently the most vulnerable group and, on many occasions, are exposed to
human rights violations and deprived of minimum services and dignity. These persons are also the most likely to be secluded
in large institutions, unable to access basic health and educational services, and excluded from ordinary social relations.
Although it is well known that intellectual disability is a neglected area, essential information about the presence or absence
of resources and services for this population does not even exist in most of the countries of the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Montreal PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in
Mental Health have worked together to develop the first Atlas: Global Resources for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities
(Atlas-ID). The main aim of Atlas-ID is to improve evidence-based knowledge and awareness on the global and regional disparities
through essential and needed information on resources and services for persons with ID at country level.
This global report includes information from 147 countries, representing 95% of the world population. The information is specifically
related to terms and classification systems used for this population, policy and legislation, financing and benefits, prevention,
health and social care services, human resources and training, research and information systems and roles of NGOs and
international organizations. In addition, the Atlas-ID includes a complete glossary of terms with definitions of basic concepts
related to the intellectual disabilities field and the questionnaire used to collect the quantitative and qualitative information.
Atlas-ID findings reveal a lack of adequate policy and legislative response and a serious deficiency of services and resources
allocated to the care of persons with ID globally. The situation is especially worrisome in most low and middle income countries.
The lack of consensus on basic terms and classification criteria related to the ID field do not help to improve the situation.
The evidence provided by this report is likely to be useful to professionals, NGOs, development agencies, public health and
social-services sector organizations, service planners, policy makers, health and social researchers, family members of people
with ID, and especially to people with intellectual disabilities. This report constitutes a call for mobilization of resources and
the respect of the basic individual rights of persons with ID at the international level.