Public health, innovation, intellectual property and trade

Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE)

WHO estimates that more than one billion people (mostly older people and people with disabilities) are in need of one or more assistive products. With populations ageing and the rise in noncommunicable diseases, this number is expected to increase to beyond two billion by 2050. Currently, only one in ten people in need have access. To address the substantial gap between the need for and provision of assistive technology, WHO established the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE).

Improving access to assistive technology for everyone, everywhere.

fact buffet


1 in 10has access to assistive technology


Low-Middle Income Countries

3%of the population in need has access to hearing aids



2 billionpeople will need assistive technology by 2050



Improving access to assistive technology was discussed by WHO’s Executive Board during its 142nd session this January. With leadership from the governments of Pakistan and Ecuador, Member States agreed on the wording of a draft resolution and recommended its adoption by the 71st World Health Assembly, which will meet in May this year. The resolution was co-sponsored by 32 Member States: Algeria, Australia, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, and Zambia.

WHO, in partnership with the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has recently published global standards for prosthetics and orthotics. Implementation of these standards will support countries to fulfil their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and towards the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

The Global Research, Innovation, and Education in Assistive Technology (GREAT) Summit was held on the 3rd - 4th August 2017 at WHO headquarters in Geneva. The Summit brought together nearly 200 stakeholders including expert users, global researchers, innovators and educators to discuss service provision, research and education related to assistive technology policy, products, personnel, provision and use.

The Governments of Ecuador, Pakistan, Germany, Ireland, China, Republic of Korea, United States of America, and Zimbabwe hosted a side event Assistive Technology for All during the 69th World Health Assembly. During the side event, along with other distinguished delegates, H.E. Saira Afzal Tarar and H.E. Margarita Guevara, Health Ministers from Pakistan and Ecuador respectively, launched the WHO Priority Assistive Products List, which is the first step of WHO’s GATE initiative towards improving global access to assistive products for everyone, everywhere.

GATE has published a Global priority research agenda for improving access to high-quality affordable assistive technology. It invites researchers, states, donor agencies, user groups, civil societies and other stakeholders to initiate or support research activities that contribute to closing the gap between global assistive technology need and unmet need. The research agenda has been developed through a global consultation and consensus process, and it identifies five global priority research thematic areas.