CONTRIBUTING TO -The Case for Investing in Assistive Technology | December 1, 2020
The new Case for Investing in Assistive Technology (AT) that is published by ATscale, describes the enormous gains that access to AT can have in health, for the community and the economy. HI is proud to have contributed to it. When there is no electricity and your sewing machine is powered by a pedal, being […]
The new Case for Investing in Assistive Technology (AT) that is published by ATscale, describes the enormous gains that access to AT can have in health, for the community and the economy. HI is proud to have contributed to it.
When there is no electricity and your sewing machine is powered by a pedal, being a tailor without legs is tough. Mohammad, who lost both legs to a landmine many years ago, lost his protheses when he had to flee from Myanmar in a rush in 2017. His only way to feed his family was with the money he made with his tailoring business. But with no legs, Mohammad had no chance of operating a sewing machine in his shelter in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. A pair of new protheses fitted by a local health centre changed his fortune. Now he can work again, his children can go to school, and his earnings support the whole family. One set of protheses gave a whole family a chance to be self-sufficient again.
Investing in assistive technology makes good economic sense
The Report shows dramatic figures: investment in the provision of four assistive products – hearing aids, prostheses, eyeglasses, and wheelchairs – will result in a return on investment of 9:1. Having access to AT can make the difference between failure or success in school, between a job or unemployment, between a life of opportunity or a life of dependency. For example, for a child in a low- or middle-income country, access to AT can make a difference of $100,000 in lifetime income.
A wheelchair, a prosthetic limb, a hearing aid or a pair of eyeglasses can increase the user’s access to other health care, improving overall well-being for a healthier life. These assistive products allow children to play, adults to work and travel, and can reduce loneliness and isolation. Over a billion people can live more social lives through access to the right assistive technology.
Yet, the world so far has failed to meet the global need for AT. Based on current estimates, nearly one billion people living in low- and middle-income countries require one or more of the four devices covered in this investment case: hearing aids, protheses, eyeglasses, and wheelchairs. But only 10% of have access to the AT they need.
Call to action
With this investment case, ATscale calls on governments, including those of low- and middle-income countries, and donor organisations to “leave no one behind”, which must include people who need AT. It is time to prioritise action and investment in AT – for the 90% still in need around the world.
We need to scale up coordination to build economies of scale and get faster and better in bringing AT to under-represented and marginalised communities.
- Governments and donor organisations must allocate resources for AT in their budgets and integrate AT within national health plans. AT needs to be a core part of health systems, insurance and social protection programmes, as opposed to an afterthought.
- The private sector should work with ATscale and others to find win-win situations for business and those in need of AT.
To ensure we are providing quality assistance, AT users and organisations of persons with disabilities need to be meaningfully engaged on all policies and programmes that concern AT.
ATscale, the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology, is a cross-sector partnership established in 2018 to build a unifying strategy addressing the lack of global prioritisation, coordination, and investment in AT, as well as to tackle market challenges. ATscale’s goal is to catalyse action to ensure that 500 million more people globally are reached with life-changing AT by 2030.