From July 3-4, 2014, UCP Wheels for Humanity Executive Director Michael Allen joined other key stakeholders in the assistive health technology field for an important gathering in Geneva, Switzerland called GATE (Global cooperation on Assistive Health Technology). The meeting, organized by the World Health Organization, discussed assistive health technology (AHT) and the need for global cooperation to make it more accessible and affordable to those who need it – a group that is quickly growing as the population ages. In fact, by 2050, more than 21% of the world’s population will consist of older people; that’s over two billion individuals with a potential need for assistive health technology.
The GATE meeting discussed several aspects of the Assistive Technology field, including developing policies and guidelines surrounding AHT; creating a global knowledge hub; raising awareness and a sense of urgency about the need for greater investment in AHT around the world; and investing in developing new products. Participants collaborated to determine the magnitude of the need for AHT around the world and how best to promote its access to those who need it. This will be done by working with nonprofits on local, national, and international levels as well as governments and organizations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations. While there is a lot of work to be done to “open the gate” to AHT and make it more accessible, this meeting was an important first step. As one of only two organizations invited to the conference as wheelchair provision experts, UCP Wheels for Humanity was proud to be a part of it and to contribute our expertise about assistive technology. We look forward to working with others across the industry to innovate new ways to get AHT to everyone who needs it!