First ever global spec guide for mobility equipment tackles procurement challenges

WHO Assistive Products Specifications guidebook

The World Health Organization has created a first ever guide aimed at expanding access to quality assistive products.

The Assistive Products Specifications (APS) a guidebook features specs for 26 prioritised assistive products that describes the minimum quality requirements for manufacturing.

Funded by UK Aid under Global Disability Innovation Hub’s AT2030 programme, the APS supports a focus on innovative products, new service models, and global capacity to drive disability innovation for a fairer world.

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This first compilation of the APS includes products selected from the Priority assistive products list and covers mobility, hearing, vision, communication, cognition and self-care.

The products range from clubfoot braces and wheelchairs to hearing aids, alarm signalers and audio-players.

The main aim of the APS is to ensure countries get supply of good quality and affordable assistive products for all who need them.

Each APS in the compilation describes the functional and performance requirements that can be used as a model to guide manufacturing and procurement.

This year, WHO and UNICEF will issue a joint tender for wheelchair and hearing aids and insist they will ensure the products “reach those who need them”.

The two agencies have already identified and are working with assistive technology manufacturers to ensure the specs are followed and that production and supply can be cost-effective for both bulk buyers and individuals.

Both organisations will also support countries with training to adapt their national standards to improve access to quality, life-changing health products.

WHO said the APS is the first global guide for quality-assured assistive products and will be updated on a regular basis.

The guide comes five years after it issued the Priority assistive products list, a compilation of the 50 most essential assistive products, selected based on a survey done with persons living with disabilities and their carers.

WHO has been active in wheelchair provision since 2004 and introduced the Wheelchair Guidelines, training and wheelchair provision standards. 


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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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