Thursday 8 June 2017
Posted by: Kasia Duchna
Together with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and USAID, ISPO organised a Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) Symposium on the opening day of the 2017 World Congress to highlight global assistive technology issues.
The GATE Symposium was split into two sessions, the first was co-chaired by Prof. Rajiv Hanspal, then ISPO President, and Prof Dr.Alarcos Cieza, Head of the WHO Department for Disability and Rehabilitation. The second GATE session was co-chaired by Prof. Friedbert Kohler, then ISPO President-Elect, and Dr. Gubela Mji, Head of Stellenbosch University's Centre for Rehabilitation Studies Medicine and Health Science Faculty.
High-profile speakers and representatives of governments and leading institutions discussed how to improve access to high-quality and, at the same time, affordable mobility and therapeutic aids.
Chapal Khasnabis, Technical Officer, WHO department for Disability and Rehabilitation, and leader of the GATE initiative, explained that because Assistive Technology is not a priority in most countries it is not reimbursed. It is an important goal of the GATE initiative to make governments take more responsibility for assistive devices to help people in need participate in society.
Chapal Khasnabis noted that the two major workstreams to date of GATE have been the Priority Assistive Device List, launched last year at the World Health Assembly, encouraging countries to make these essential devices available to their citizens. The second major workstream is influencing the global research agenda. He noted that the work being done on GATE falls under the UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal health coverage for all. He announced that a major next step will be to draft a Resolution to be presented at the 2018 World Health Assembly to call on governments to ensure AHT is available to their citizens.
Ninety percent of people worldwide who need assistive technologies to restore or maintain their mobility do not have access to appropriate devices. This year’s theme at the Congress, “Assistive technology for all”, highlighted ISPO’s vision of enabling everyone to have an equal opportunity to participate in society.