ISLAMABAD: The apex global health body has approved a resolution moved by Pakistan to improve access to assistive technology.
This was unanimously decided in an executive board meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.
Pakistan had been making concerted efforts to advocate for access to assistive technology for the differently-abled across the world.
Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar had unveiled the first ever global list of essential assistive devices in May 2016 at the World Health Assembly.
The resolution emphasised that since a billion people require assistive technology, with a globally ageing population, and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, this figure is expected to rise to over two billion by 2050.
Assistive technology will enable and promote the participation and engagement with differently-abled people, ageing population people with co-morbidities in the family, communities in political, economic and social spheres.
The resolution pointed out that 90 per cent 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.
It was emphasised that the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and its slogan of “leaving no one behind” requires making efforts to support the differently abled so that can contribute to attaining Sustainable Development Goals.
The resolution further called for providing the necessary technical and capacity-building support for member states, aligned with national priorities, in the development of national assistive technology policies and programmes, including procurement and financing, regulation, training for health and social services, appropriate service delivery, and inclusive barrier-free environments.
It also calls for providing technical and capacity-building support to countries, on request, to assess the feasibility of establishing regional or sub-regional manufacturing, procurement and supply networks for assistive technology and cooperation platforms.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2018.
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