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September 17, 2021 1:45 pm
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Israel’s Shalva Band Performs for Online WHO Event Promoting Disability Inclusion

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Shalva Band vocalists Dina Samteh (left) and Anael Khalifa performing for a side event of the 71st WHO Regional Committee for Europe. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

An eight-member ensemble comprised of Israeli musicians with disabilities performed on Friday at an online gathering about disability inclusion, as part of the 71st session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Committee for Europe.

The Shalva Band performed “A Million Dreams” from the film “The Greatest Showman,” a song they first performed at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.

Before the start of the track, vocalist Dina Samteh told viewers, “We are all humans. We have our differences. And that’s what makes our lives interesting. Far too often, persons with disabilities face barriers and stigma, and don’t receive the health services they need.”

The band’s lead vocalist, Anael Khalifa, added, “I think of what the world could be if we broke down these barriers: a world of respect and acceptance. It is our responsibility to ensure that our voices are being heard and that no one is left behind.”

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The online event on Friday was co-hosted by the European Disability Forum, Germany, Israel, Norway, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It was a side event of the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, a three-day agenda that formally ended on Wednesday.

In May 2021, the World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA74.8 on the “highest attainable standard of health” for persons with disabilities. The goal of Friday’s event was to raise awareness among member states about the resolution, identify ways to highlight the importance of and advance disability inclusion in healthcare, and determine the next steps for advancing the resolution’s goals in Europe.

The European Disability Forum said the “the proposed outcome” of the event was to begin preparing a European plan of action for implementing resolution WHA74.8 that would be presented to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe at its 72nd session.

One billion people around the world live with some form of disability, according to the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Watch The Shalva Band perform “A Million Dreams” for the 71st WHO Regional Committee for Europe in the video below.

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