WHO Database: 2 of 3 People Aged 60 & Older Need Assistive Technology

A new database from the World Health Organization (WHO) offers information on the availability and progress of assistive technology.

In a June announcement, WHO said it “has undertaken a global initiative to measure access to assistive technology at the population and system level between April 2019 and December 2021.”

Data was collected via assistive technology population access indicators, described as a population-based household survey measuring self-reported “use, need, met need, and barriers to accessing assistive technology”; and assistive technology progress indicators, “a government survey measuring system preparedness in terms of governance; legislation; public budget; financing mechanisms; regulations and standards; collaborations and initiatives; service provision coverage; workforce availability; and training.”

As of December 2021, WHO said it had collected data from populations in 29 countries, and progress indicator information from 70 countries.

Countries who are members of the United Nations can become members of WHO by accepting its constitution or by applying and being approved by a simple majority of the World Health Assembly.

Findings included 2.5 billion people who are in need of assistive products, a figure that will swell to 3.5 billion people by the year 2050, WHO said.

The WHO program found that two of every 30 people who are 60 years and older require at least one assistive product. “Large gaps in service provision and trained workforce for assistive technology were reported from many countries, especially in the domains of cognition, communication, and self care,” the organization added.

Of the 70 countries who contributed data to the progress indicators, 63 “have measures to cover users’ assistive technology costs fully or partly,” the WHO announcement said.

Database viewers can examine data on a number of subtopics, including the existence of legislation on access to assistive technology; availability of government services for assistive technology; the existence of regulations/standards/guidelines on assistive technology; and the availability of education/training for assistive technology.

Under assistive technology population access indicators, database viewers can look up the prevalence of use of assistive products; funding for assistive products; travel distance to obtain assistive products; and satisfaction with assistive products for different environments and activities, among other topics.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at [email protected].

Mobility Management Podcast