Public health, innovation, intellectual property and trade

Priority Assistive Products List (APL)

The Governments of Ecuador, Pakistan, Germany, Ireland, China, Republic of Korea, United States of America, and Zimbabwe hosted a side event of the 69th World Health Assembly, launching 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.

The Priority Assistive Products List includes hearing aids, wheelchairs, communication aids, spectacles, artificial limbs, pill organizers, memory aids and other essential items for many older people and people with disabilities to be able to live a healthy, productive and dignified life.

The Priority Assistive Products List aspires to follow in the footsteps of the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, which creates awareness among the public, mobilizes resources and stimulates competition. The Priority Assistive Products List is similarly intended to be a catalyst in promoting access to assistive technology.
It is not a restrictive list but aims to provide each Member State with a model from which to develop a National priority assistive products list. Like the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the Priority Assistive Products List will also provide guidance for procurement and reimbursement policies, including insurance coverage.

WHO estimates that today, more than 1 billion people need one or more assistive products. With a global ageing population and rise in noncommunicable diseases, this number will rise beyond 2 billion by 2050, with many older people needing two or more products as they age.

However, only 1 in 10 people in need currently have access. This results in many missed opportunities for people to participate in society – for younger people to access education and work, and for older people to continue to live healthy, independent lives in their own homes. Access to assistive technology offers a public health solution to meet the needs of 21st century populations.

The Priority Assistive Products List is the first of four tools to be developed by the GATE initiative, towards increasing access to high-quality affordable assistive products as an integral component of universal health coverage.

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