ISPO is a nongovernmental organization in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO). Through its activities, ISPO contributes to implementing several of the WHO’s strategic objectives:
- To prevent and reduce disease, disability and premature death from chronic non-communicable conditions, mental disorders, violence and injuries
ISPO continues to develop its longstanding collaboration with WHO in supporting activities related to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It regularly takes part in WHO meetings concerned with the promotion of rehabilitation activities and particularly the provision of assistive devices. ISPO contributed to the development of the Joint Position Paper on Mobility Devices, a guiding document for Member States to develop and implement policies, strategies and regulations in respect to provision of mobility devices for people in need.
- To strengthen leadership, governance and the evidence base of health systems
ISPO recognizes the importance of the World Report on Disability, produced jointly by WHO and World Bank, and was proud to be part of its launch in June 2012 in New York. ISPO publishes its peer reviewed journal Prosthetics and Orthotics International to consolidate and disseminate evidence related to rehabilitation services and assistive devices, as well as a bimonthly e-newsletter to facilitate exchange of knowledge and experience. Furthermore, ISPO has presence on Facebook and LinkedIn, and is also working closely with its partners to further guide and promote research in the field of disability.
- To ensure improved access, quality and use of medical products and technologies
Access to affordable quality assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, prostheses, orthoses and other mobility devices, is an international issue, particularly in the developing world. According to WHO statistics only 5-15% of those in need of assistive devices have access to them. ISPO continues to work with WHO to ensure improved access to quality assistive devices and technologies, and is exploring the possibilities of jointly developing a Prosthetics and Orthotics Service Guideline.
- To ensure an available, competent, responsive and productive health workforce in order to improve health outcomes
ISPO organized its 14th World Congress in February 2013 in Hyderabad, India, for the first time in a less resourced country. The promotion of the WHO/ISPO training guidelines to develop appropriately trained P&O personnel was the main subject of the opening keynote lecture. ISPO continues to develop in the area of training of P&O professionals to ensure proper access to services provided by competent staff. The process of school inspection, guidance and consultation gains momentum, with now 26 P&O training programs being recognized by ISPO and a substantial number being in the process or having expressed interest. In the last years over 2,500 recognized graduates have joined the health workforce worldwide. To increase the competencies of professionals to improve health outcomes ISPO furthermore delivers consensus-based Short Courses.
- To reduce the health consequences of emergencies, disasters, crises and conflicts, and minimize their social and economic impact
ISPO works closely with several partner NGOs that are able to respond to emergency situations. The efforts are primarily aimed at post-disaster or conflict areas, where infrastructure can be developed after the conflict or natural disaster is over. Consultations in Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and other areas have significantly influenced the development of infrastructure and training of professionals. In 2011 and 2012, ISPO participated in a series of meetings arranged by WHO to promote the development of services to disabled people in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
In the framework of the collaboration, ISPO and WHO have agreed on the following activities for the period 2013-2016:
- Develop Prosthetics and Orthotics Service Guidelines jointly along with USAID. The existing ISPO/WHO Guidelines for Training Personnel for Prosthetics and Orthotics Services will be revised and become a core component of the proposed guidelines, which will cover the whole service provision including development of appropriate human resources.
- Support development of the WHO Rehabilitation Guidelines, especially on the chapter related to Assistive Technology.
- Take part in the WHO meeting of its partners, technical committee meeting, World Health Assembly and the United Nations High Level Meeting on Disability and Development to advance awareness and policy towards greater access to assistive technology.
- Provide necessary support towards development of a global initiative to improve access to quality assistive devices/technology.