Global Priority Research Agenda for Improving Access to High-quality Affordable Assistive Technology
(2017; 24 pages)


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than one billion people are in need of one or more assistive products. The majority of these are older people and people with disabilities. With populations ageing and a rise in noncommunicable diseases, the number of people needing assistive products is projected to increase to beyond two billion by 2050.

However, only one in ten people in need currently have access to assistive technology. Without access, people are often excluded and may be locked into poverty and isolation; increasing the impact of disease and disability on the person, their family and on society as a whole. To address the substantial gap between the need for and provision of assistive technology, WHO established the Global Cooperation on Assistive Health Technology (GATE). The GATE initiative has prioritized research and innovation as a key focus area.

To promote research and innovation, WHO established a core group to identify strategic research priorities for the GATE initiative and called for a GATE Research Group meeting in Budapest in September 2015. The core group members are experts from the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE), the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), Zuyd University of Applied Science, and Trinity College Dublin.

Core group members consulted 50 experts from 25 countries to invite contributions to the priority research agenda for the Budapest meeting. Following this, 64 experts from 25 countries took part in a GATE Research Group consensus meeting and identified five global priority research thematic areas as essential to improving access to high-quality affordable assistive technology:

  1. Effects, costs and economic impact of assistive technology.
  2. Assistive technology policies, systems, service provision models and best practices.
  3. High-quality and affordable assistive technology.
  4. Human resources for the assistive technology sector.
  5. Standards and methodologies for the assessment of assistive technology need and unmet need.

Meeting participants also arrived at a consensus on two guiding principles for any assistive technology-related research activities:

  1. User involvement in all aspects of research, especially on policy and service provision.
  2. Work from a social and environmental model of disability and participation.

The main purpose of the current report is to share the resulting global priority research agenda and to invite researchers, states, donor agencies, user groups, civil societies and other stakeholders to initiate/support research activities that contribute to closing the gap between global assistive technology need and unmet need.

El Portal de Información - Medicamentos Esenciales y Productos de Salud de la OMS fue diseñado y es mantenido por la ONG Human Info. Última actualización: le 1 diciembre 2019