Disability and rehabilitation

WHO supports new initiative to ensure availability of medical and assistive devices for ageing populations

On 20-21 February, the WHO Kobe Centre in Japan, with support from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, convened a consultation to discuss the immediate needs in terms of medical and assistive devices of the world's rapidly ageing population.

The consultation, which brought together around 40 participants from relevant government ministries, academia and industry in Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Viet Nam, examined innovative technological solutions needed to prevent loss of functioning and enable older people to participate in their own care and remain independent as they age.

Examples of assistive devices commonly used by older people include spectacles, hearing aids, mobility devices and aids for home-keeping. While data regarding the availability, affordability and barriers to access for such devices are limited, preliminary evidence from the WHO Western Pacific Region reveals major gaps in their availability and affordability.

WHO has established a new initiative to facilitate the development and access to appropriate priority medical and assistive devices at lower cost for ageing populations to enable them to remain healthy, active and independent for a longer period of time.