Islamabad-World Health Assembly (WHA) on Monday unanimously approved the Pakistan backed resolution on improving accesses to Assistive Technology for disabled persons and patients with non-communicable diseases said a statement. As per the statement issued by Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C), 31 other countries also supported the resolution. The resolution was earlier considered in the World Health Organization (WHO) meeting held in January 2018.

According to the statement, Pakistan presented the outline and objectives of the resolution at WHA and 35 countries from different regions of WHO participated in debate on the resolution and highlighted the critical need to ensure both access and quality of assistive devices. The resolution considers that one billion people need assistive technology and that, as the global population ages and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases increases, this figure will rise to more than two billion by 2050.

Assistive technology enables and promotes the inclusion, participation and engagement of persons with disabilities, ageing populations and people with co-morbidities in the family, community and all areas of society, including the political, economic and social spheres. 90 percent of those who need assistive technology do not have access to it, thereby having a significant adverse impact on the education, livelihood, health and well-being of individuals, and on families, communities and societies.

The resolution recognizes that the inclusion of assistive technology, in line with countries’ national priority and context, into health systems is essential for realizing progress towards the SDG targets relating to universal health coverage.

Under the resolution the 194 member states of the WHO have been urged to develop, implement and strengthen policies and programs, as appropriate, to improve access to assistive technology within universal health and/or social services coverage.

To ensure that adequate and trained human resources for the provision and maintenance of assistive products are available at all levels of health and social service delivery.

To ensure that assistive technology users and their caregivers have access to the most appropriate assistive products and use them safely and effectively; where appropriate, based on national needs and context, develop a national list of priority assistive products that are affordable and cost-effective and meet minimum quality and safety standards, drawing on WHO’s priority assistive products list.

In 2021 WHO will prepare a global report on effective access to assistive technology in the context of an integrated approach, based on the best available scientific evidence and international experience, said the statement. A report on progress achieved in the implementation of resolution by member states would be submitted to the World Health Assembly in 2022.

Spokesperson NHS said the passage of the resolution was a major success for Pakistan. We have been working hard on this for over two years and endorsement by the global community has enhanced the country’s stature besides giving hope to the one billion people who need assistive devices across the globe.