In 2018, the World Health Assembly requested the World Health Organisation (WHO), using international experience and best available scientific evidence, to develop a Global Report on Assistive Technology.
More than 35 member states took part, and the importance of assistive products such as prosthetic limbs, reading glasses, hearing aids, walking frames and wheelchairs to enable inclusion and accessibility was highlighted.
Subsequently, the WHO has developed progress indicators across the 10 areas of budget, legislation, population and geographic coverage, responsible ministries, human resources, financial coverage, regulations and standards, education and training, and specific assistive technology initiatives to measure access to assistive technology. They are intended to gather meaningful information from member states to track and measure progress.
The WHO notes that globally, only 10% of the one billion people who require what can be life-changing assistive technology have access to it, and suggests that one of the biggest barriers to accessing assistive technology is a lack of data,
“Without relevant, quality information, decision makers face huge challenges in developing evidence-informed policies and programmes to improve access for their populations,” it says.
As such, data, reporting against the 10 progress indicators, will be collected in each country, and inputted either through an online data collection platform or a paper-based version if required, helping it to track and measure access to assistive technology in each member state taking part.
Data will be collected between April and June this year and reported in the Global Report on Assistive Technology presented at the 75th World Health Assembly in 2022, followed by progress reports every four years until 2030.
In 2020, the WHO also combined with the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) to launch an assistive technology survey in the UK which aims to create a prioritised Assistive Products List (APL). This means that those using and developing assistive technology can contribute and highlight the most essential products so that policymakers in the UK can plan, procure, and provide them.
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