Disabilities and rehabilitation

Experts meet to promote quality wheelchair production, distribution and maintenance for users around the world

From 6-11 November 2006, WHO, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) organized a conference on wheelchairs in Bangalore, India. Nearly 90 people attended the conference, representing governments, NGOs, organizations of persons with disabilities and wheelchair experts. One in five participants were wheelchair users. The conference highlighted the need for better data and information related to wheelchair needs particularly in developing countries; improvements in the design, production and servicing of wheelchairs; and capacity development for wheelchair service providers. There was also a call from wheelchair users for a broader selection of types of mobility aids. Excerpts from the forthcoming WHO Guidelines on the production, distribution and maintenance of wheelchairs in less-resourced settings were presented. The excerpts were well received, and many participants agreed to contribute to the peer review process. The final draft of the document will be available during the ISPO World Congress in July 2007. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in September 2006, highlights the need for greater access to quality mobility aids such as wheelchairs by making them available at affordable cost.

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