COMING UP – The voice of the rehabilitation community at the WHO Executive Board | January 19, 2021
The Meeting of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Executive Board started yesterday, and it is hosted virtually. Humanity & Inclusion, the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics and the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, supported by World Physiotherapy and the Global Rehabilitation Alliance submitted two public statements […]
The Meeting of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Executive Board started yesterday, and it is hosted virtually.
Humanity & Inclusion, the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics and the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, supported by World Physiotherapy and the Global Rehabilitation Alliance submitted two public statements as Non-State Actors in official relations with the WHO.
These statements highlight the relevance of rehabilitation in the context of non-communicable diseases and of COVID-19 response. We would like to jointly bring to the attention of Members of the Executive Board the need to recognize that 2.4 billion people, globally, need rehabilitation services or devices and to leverage rehabilitation in the global health agenda, including via a specific WHA Resolution on Rehabilitation for All .
Public statement about Rehabilitation and Non-Communicable Diseases
The statement relates to point 6 in the agenda of the Executive Board Meeting.
The WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020 recognised rehabilitation as a key health strategy to address NCD risk factors, as well as loss of function due to NCDs.
Rehabilitation is a process comprising interventions needed when a person experiences limitations in everyday physical, mental, and social functioning. Rehabilitation can decrease the effects and consequences of NCDs, reduce hospital length of stay, slow or stop deterioration in health, and improve participation in life. Globally, 2.4 billion people have conditions that would benefit from rehabilitation. The prevalence of NCDs greatly contributes to this figure: in 2010, the proportion of disability-adjusted life years attributable to NCDs, in low and middle income countries, amounted to 50%.
However, rehabilitation is not prioritized, is under-resourced, and remains unaffordable for many people. The NCD monitoring framework focuses on mortality and morbidity, while neglecting functioning (third health indicator).
Humanity & Inclusion Federation (also known as Handicap International), International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics and World Federation of Occupational Therapists, supported by World Physiotherapy and Global Rehabilitation Alliance, call on States to:
- Re-orient health decision-making to focus not only on mortality and morbidity, but also on population’s functioning and quality of life. For this purpose, collect data on functional limitations among people living with NCDs.
- Integrate rehabilitation at all levels of the health system, from primary health care, to hospitals and specialized care, across the continuum of NCD care, and with attention to home/community-based services, locally-owned and skilled approach, including for assistive devices.
- Champion or support a WHA Resolution on Rehabilitation in 2022, which would provide the political framework for stronger commitments and wider coverage, catalyse resources, and enhance the WHO’s Rehabilitation 2030 initiative.
Public statement about Rehabilitation and COVID-19
This statement relates to point 14.1 in the agenda of the Executive Board Meeting.
The COVID-19 outbreak shows the need to integrate rehabilitation in health systems, in line with WHO Rehabilitation 2030 initiative. Rehabilitation is an important health strategy for persons affected by COVID-19, as well as for many persons experiencing loss of function and disability due to other conditions.
Rehabilitation is crucial to address the needs of people with severe COVID-19 during the acute phase (on ventilatory support), the sub-acute phase (hospitalization) and over the long-term (to optimise physical, mental, cognitive and social functioning). Rehabilitation shortens the duration of hospitalization, relieves pressure on acute care and facilitates long-term recovery and reintegration in daily activities.
This outbreak forces decisions about which essential services should remain operating. Health care disruption may lead to reduced capacity or complete unavailability of rehabilitation services, essential to the functioning and well-being of 2.4 billion individuals.
Humanity & Inclusion Federation (also known as Handicap International), International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, World Federation of Occupational Therapists and World Confederation for Physiotherapy, supported by Global Rehabilitation Alliance, urge States to:
- Incorporate rehabilitation in health planning in relation to both the rehabilitation needs of people affected by COVID19 and other groups requiring access to rehabilitation; adjust financing to respond to increased demand for rehabilitation services associated with COVID19 (including long-term rehabilitation needs).
- Maintain early rehabilitation care for injured people or with newly acquired impairments (to improve functioning and avoid secondary conditions), in strict compliance with prevention measures in place.
- Provide access to tele-rehabilitation, as a crucial modality to continue providing an essential health service to those who need it, during a time of restrictions and overloaded health service.