Umucu tapped for World Health Organization report

December 16, 2022

Michigan State University Assistant Professor Emre Umucu was tapped by the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide substantial technical support and feedback on the “Global report on health equity for persons with disabilities.”

Assistant Professor Emre Umucu.
Assistant Professor Emre Umucu.

The report, which was published on the eve of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, will be used to improve disability health policy in 194 member countries.

Umucu’s role included conducting literature reviews related to health disparities for persons with disabilities.

“This is one of my biggest achievements ever,” said Umucu, who is part of the college’s Rehabilitation Counseling faculty. “It’s much bigger than anything I’ve done in my life.”

The initiative was launched in May 2021 at the 74th World Health Assembly, where the WHO Director General tasked international organizations and other relevant stakeholders, including academia, to partner with member countries to produce a report.

The changes could save lives. The report found that on average, persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of premature death and are dying up to 20 years earlier, compared to people without disabilities.

At more than 300 pages, the report calls for significant change in disability health policy, listing 40 actions countries can take to strengthen health systems and reduce health inequities for persons with disabilities.

Person in wheelchair has discussion with friend who is sitting next to them.

Umucu carries extensive background working with persons with disabilities, most notably through serving as the director of the Michigan State University Veteran Well-Being Lab, where his research focuses on helping U.S. veterans with and without disabilities.

“It’s an exciting moment for Emre and the college,” said College of Education Dean Jerlando F.L. Jackson, “I’m proud to see him delivering on the university’s mission of utilizing research that leads to positive change on a global scale.”