At the World Health Assembly in GenevaPakistan steered the landmark launch of an essential Priority List of Assistive Devices and Products for the disabled across the world.
Launching the List, Pakistan Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar stressed that access to assistive products is not a privilege but a right of everyone with disability and she showcased Pakistan’s existing projects in relation to assistive technology and rehabilitation.
The Priority Assistive Products List includes hearing aids, wheelchairs, communication aids, spectacles, artificial limbs, pill organizers, memory aids and other essential items for older people and people with disabilities to be able to live healthy, productive and connected lives. The Priority Assistive Products List aspires to follow in the footsteps of the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, which creates awareness among the public, mobilizes resources and stimulates competition. The Priority Assistive Products List is similarly intended to be a catalyst in promoting access to assistive technology – for everyone, everywhere.
We are all living longer and as we get older we will all need assistive products to help us to continue to go about our daily lives, to be productive and to stay connected to the world. WHO estimates that today, more than 1 billion people need one or more assistive products. With a global ageing population and rise in non-communicable diseases, this number will rise beyond 2 billion by 2050, with many older people needing two or more products as they age.
However, only 1 in 10 people in need currently have access. This results in many missed opportunities for people to contribute to society – for younger people to access education and work, and for older people to continue to live healthy, independent lives in their own homes – access to assistive technology offers a public health solution to meet the needs of 21st century populations.