Prof. Dr. Jill Hanass-Hancock is Senior Specialist Scientist at South African Medical Research Council. She is a scientist focusing on the vulnerabilities and needed adaptations to enhance inclusion of people with disabilities in HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programmes in Southern Africa. She has investigated accessibility of sexuality education, inclusive and integrated HIV and SRHR care and the integration of rehabilitation services into key public health programmes such as HIV.
She has a strong policy and programme development background and her work does not only contribute to science but also informs local, national government and the work of international agencies such as UNAIDS or UNFPA. She has been ranked in the top 1% of scholars writing about disabled persons over the past 10 years – a level deemed as “Expert.” Quoting Jill: “The current COVID-pandemic has highlighted the inequality between those with and without disabilities again. The pre-pandemic inequalities deepened and the needs of people with disabilities were only an afterthought. Under crisis conditions the SRHR needs of women with disabilities have become a forgotten agenda as we are dealing here with several levels of marginalization: COVID and its inequality in responses, disability and gender”. She will be speaking in the plenary on Mental Health and disability – particularly with perspectives on how those experiencing challenges related to disability and mental health have already faced an enormous impact from the pandemic and are likely to continue doing so as Covid-19 casts its long shadow.