ALERT – World Health Assembly Day 2: a step in the right direction for assistive technologies | May 25, 2016

Join Handicap International’s Antony Duttine (@antduttine) and Davide Olchini as they blog from the World Health Assembly, taking place in Geneva this week May 23-27. Tuesday at the World Health Assembly is usually one of the most hectic days.  With plenaries and opening remarks done and dusted on day one, this is when the real […]

Join Handicap International’s Antony Duttine (@antduttine) and Davide Olchini as they blog from the World Health Assembly, taking place in Geneva this week May 23-27.

Tuesday at the World Health Assembly is usually one of the most hectic days.  With plenaries and opening remarks done and dusted on day one, this is when the real agenda items start being discussed in earnest.  High ranking delegation members remain on the grounds (the numbers tend to dwindle going into the second half of the week) and so the number of side events taking place concurrently is phenomenal.   This means prioritizing certain sessions over others or alternatively switching from session to session to try to pick up the major points and materials.

One session which received our full attention, however, was a lunchtime discussion on assistive technology, hosted by the delegations of China, Ecuador, Germany, Ireland, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, the United States of America and Zimbabwe.

This is a major achievement.  The Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) has been established to develop and promote this issue, which has been severely overlooked in global health planning.  Assistive devices include wheelchairs, walking aids, hearing aids, communication devices and others

According to the GATE website:

Assistive technology enables people to live healthy, productive, independent, and dignified lives; to participate in education, the labour market and social life. It can reduce the need for formal health and support services, long-term care and the burden on caregivers. Without assistive technology, people are often excluded, isolated and locked into poverty; also increasing the impact and the burden of morbidity and disability.

The session marked the launch of the Priority Assistive Products List (APL), a list of 50 devices agreed on by a major consultation amongst experts and assistive device users around the world over the past 12 months.  This list will help countries plan and implement services to ensure that people can have access to the devices they need.

Away from assistive technology, the discussions on the main agenda ran slowly.  We were hoping that the Multisectoral action for a life course approach to healthy ageing: draft global strategy and plan of action on ageing and health would be discussed, but unfortunately this agenda item was too far down the list and has been postponed until Thursday.


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