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WHO and UNICEF Release Report on Role of Assistive Technologies 

May 18, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
(Photo by stevepb via Pixabay)

The World Health Organization and UNICEF released a report on Monday that finds more than 2.5 billion people need one or more assistive products, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids or apps that support communication and cognition. 

Despite the need, nearly 1 billion are denied access to such technologies, especially in low-income and middle-income countries, where access can be as low as 3%, according to the report. 

Based on an analysis of 35 countries, the access to assistive technologies varies from 3% in poorer nations to 90% in wealthy countries. There were also large gaps found in service provisions and workforce training for assistive technologies, especially in domains of cognition, communication and self-care based on a survey of 70 countries. 

Affordability of assistive technologies was identified as a key issue, as the report showed that around two-thirds of people with assistive products reported having to pay out of pocket for them, or relied on family and friends to financially support their needs. 

The number of people who need one or more assistive products is likely to rise to 3.5 billion by 2050 as populations age and the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases increases globally, according to the report.

Nearly 240 million children are living with disabilities globally, and the report also finds that without access to assistive technology these children could miss out on education, be at greater risk of child labor, and continue to be subjected to stigma and discrimination, lowering their confidence and well-being. 

Alexa can be reached at alexa@thewellnews.com

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