A report by WHO, UNICEF, calls for access to Assistive products to be prioritized

A report by WHO and UNICEF highlights the need for global access to assistive products like hearing aids and wheelchairs. Over 2.5 billion people require such tools, especially in low- and middle-income countries where affordability is a barrier. The call is for all countries to prioritize and fund access to assistive technology to enable individuals, including children with disabilities, to reach their potential. Denying access to these products not only infringes on human rights but also limits educational and employment opportunities, perpetuating stigma and discrimination.

The Global Report on Assistive Technology published by WHO and UNICEF has revealed that there is need for and access to one or more assistive products such as hearing aids, Wheelchairs or apps that support communication and cognition by over 2.5 billion people globally, however, in the low – and middle income countries access to these tools are much lower due to affordability.

During the launch, WHO Director -General, Dr. Tedroc Adhanom Ghebreyesus said ‘Assistive technology is a life changer – it opens the door to education for children with impairments, employment and social interaction for adults living with disabilities, and an independent life of dignity for older persons, denying people access to these life-changing tools is not only an infringement of human rights, it’s economically short-sighted. We call on all countries to fund and prioritize access to assistive technology and give everyone a chance to live up to their potential.’

The UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell, had this to say, ‘Nearly 240 million children have disabilities. Denying children the right to the products they need to thrive doesn’t only harm individual children, it deprives families and their communities of everything they could contribute if their needs were met, without access to assistive technology, children with disabilities will continue to miss out on their education, continue to be at a greater risk of child labour and continue to be subjected to stigma and discrimination, undermining their confidence and well-being.’