Assistive devices needed by over a billion people across the world: WHO

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China, Italy and Iraq provided support to Pakistan in hosting the event, a Ministry of Health Services press release said.

More than one billion people across the world need access to assistive technology devices, a number that is expected to swell to more than two billion by 2050 due to an ageing population and increase in non-communicable diseases. At the moment however, only one in ten have access to such devices.

Country delegations, International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGO’s) and top institutions participated in the event presided over by Pakistani Ambassador at the UN in Geneva Farukh Amil. Director General Health Dr Assad Hafeez also participated at the gathering.

“This is a victory for the one billion people across the globe living with various kinds of disabilities,” said Farukh Amil in reference to Pakistan’s successful lobbying to WHO Executive Board for tabling a resolution on the matter.

Pakistan Federal Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar had supported the cause at all regional and global forums which represents Pakistan’s dedication to the issue, he said.

He added that it is pertinent to ensure that access to assistive technology devices is improved. Sana Hafeez, a Pakistani doctor and WHO’s first global champion for assistive technologies spoke how an accident led to her physically disability, prompting her to speak out for those in need.

Tajikistan Deputy Health Minister Dr Aziz Abdosattar Odinazoda pledged his country’s support for the cause while Vice President of Chinese Disabilities Federation Jia Yong and Li Xi head of the China Assistive Devices and Technology Centre expressed full support of their organisations for countries part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

WHO Deputy Director-General Dr Soumya Swaminathan explained WHO position on the matter and expressed full support from the organisation in helping member states develop a roadmap to improve access to assistive technology.