Health

Assistive Technology: ‘life-changing’ for those most in need |

Developed jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Global Assistive Technology Report presents new evidence of a global need for and access to technologies that can make a difference.

“Assistive technology is changing lives: it opens the door to education for children with disabilities, employment and social interaction for adults living with disabilities, and independent living with dignity for older people,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

We call on all countries to fund and prioritize access to assistive technology. head of WHO

Huge differences

While over 2.5 billion people need one or more assistive devices to support communication and cognition, such as wheelchairs or hearing aids, a shocking billion simply don’t have access to them.

The report highlights the huge gap between low- and high-income countries, and an analysis of 35 states shows that the tolerance ranges from 3% in poorer countries to 90% in rich countries.

“Nearly 240 million children have disabilities,” said UNICEF Executive Director Katherine Russell.

Denying them the right to the foods they need to thrive not only harms individual children, but also “deprives families and their communities of everything they could contribute if their needs were met,” she added.

Identification of obstacles

The report notes that affordability is a major barrier to access.

About two-thirds of people using assistive devices reported paying out of pocket, while others had to rely financially on family and friends.

Meanwhile, population aging and rising incidences of non-communicable diseases mean that by 2050 the number of people in need of assistive technology is likely to rise to 3.5 billion.

The survey in 70 countries found large gaps in assistive technology in services and training levels, especially in the areas of cognition, communication and self-care.

Other major barriers identified in previous WHO surveys included unacceptable prices, lack of awareness and services, inadequate product quality, and problems with procurement and supply chains.

© UNICEF/Zia Gafik

In Kosovo, a father helps his son with cerebral palsy get back into an electric wheelchair.

Multiple Benefits

Assistive devices are generally considered a means of participating in life on an equal basis with others.

Without them, people face isolation, poverty and hunger; suffer isolation and are more dependent on family, community and government support.

And users aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits: families and communities are also profiting.

“Denying people access to these life-changing tools is not only a human rights violation but also economically short-sighted,” Tedros said.

Increasing access to quality, safe and affordable assistive products reduces health and welfare costs, such as regular hospitalizations or government benefits, and boosts productivity by indirectly stimulating economic growth.

To raise children

The report states that access to assistive technology for children with disabilities is often the first step to development, access to education, participation in sports and social life, and preparation for employment like their peers.

However, as they grow, they face additional challenges, such as frequent adjustments or the need to replace hardware.

“Without access to assistive technology, children with disabilities will continue to be left out of education, will continue to be at greater risk of child labor and will continue to face stigma and discrimination that undermines their self-confidence and well-being,” the head warned. UNICEF. .


Worldwide, about 93 million children under the age of 15 live with some form of disability.

© UNICEF/Wanda Kleio

Worldwide, about 93 million children under the age of 15 live with some form of disability.

Access improvement

Global report provides a set of recommendations to increase accessibility and accessibility, raise awareness, and implement integration policies to improve the lives of millions.

He specifically advocates for improved access to education, health and welfare systems; ensuring the availability, effectiveness and accessibility of aids; expansion, diversification and improvement of human resources; and investing in research, innovation and a supportive ecosystem.

The summary also highlights the need to raise public awareness and combat stigma; develop and invest in an enabling environment and evidence-based policies, and incorporate this vital technology into humanitarian operations.

“We call on all countries to fund and prioritize access to assistive technology and give everyone a chance to fulfill their potential,” said a senior WHO official.


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