Disabilities and rehabilitation

Guidelines on the provision of manual wheelchairs in less-resourced settings

On the occasion of the 21st World Congress of Rehabilitation International, WHO, the US Agency for International Development, the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics and Disabled Peoples' International have launched an important new document: Guidelines on the provision of manual wheelchairs in less resourced settings.

The wheelchair is one of the most commonly used assistive devices for enhancing the personal mobility of people with disabilities. An estimated 1% of the world's population, or just over 65 million people, need a wheelchair. In most developing countries, few of those who need wheelchairs have access, production facilities are insufficient and wheelchairs are often donated without the necessary related services. Providing wheelchairs that are appropriate, well-designed and fitted not only enhances mobility, but also opens up a world of education, work and social life for those in need of such support.

The guidelines, developed for use in less resourced settings, address the design, production, supply and service delivery of manual wheelchairs, in particular for long-term wheelchair users. The guidelines and related recommendations are targeted at a range of audiences, including policy-makers; planners, managers, providers and users of wheelchair services; designers, purchasers, donors and adapters of wheelchairs; trainers of wheelchair provision programmes; representatives of disabled people’s organizations; and individual users and their families. By developing an effective system of wheelchair provision, Member States support implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the May 2005 World Health Assembly resolution A58/23 Disability, including prevention, management and rehabilitation.

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