WHO supports the strengthening of Assistive Technology sector in Azerbaijan

  • World Health Organization and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Azerbaijan hosted a virtual stakeholders’ meeting on strengthening the Assistive Technology (e.g. wheelchairs, hearing aids, prosthetics, glasses, etc.) sector in Azerbaijan.

A total of 45 organizations were represented at the meeting, including senior officials of ministries, state committees, chairmen of parliamentary committees, rectors and professors of universities and academies, representatives of international organizations, embassies and NGOs.

After the opening speeches by Dr Hande Harmanci, WHO Representative in Azerbaijan and Anar Karimov, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection it was stated that the WHO and the ministry have started working together to strengthen the AT sector in Azerbaijan. According to WHO, today 1 billion people globally need AT to lead productive, inclusive, and dignified lives, but only 1 in 10 people globally have access to the AT they need. Access to AT is essential for many people to maintain and improve function, health and wellbeing, to participate in education, work and social activities. People who commonly need AT are older people, those with disabilities, people with injuries resulting from conflict and people living with chronic conditions. 

The initial stage of the project entails the assessment of the national assistive technology needs, using WHO’s rATA (rapid Assistive Technology Assessment) tool. The findings of this assessment will then yield important insights into the need, unmet need and barriers in accessing AT in Azerbaijan. One of the key elements of the project is to provide technical support to Azerbaijan in the development of the national Priority Assistive Products List, within WHO Global Assistive Technologies Engagement Program (GATE Initiative). The findings will also be presented in the WHO Global Report on AT by 2022 for the benefit of other countries.  

All in all, this work will support the ministry in developing informed policies in order to enhance access to assistive products in Azerbaijan. In the long run, it is will also move the country closer to Universal Health Coverage and help to meet the commitment of the UN Convention on the Rights for People with Disabilities.

Academician Ahliman Amiraslanov, Chairman of the Health Committee of the Parliament, Zahid Oruj, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Parliament, Hijran Huseynova, Chairwoman of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children, Fuad Hajiyev, Rector of the Azerbaijan State Academy of Physical Culture and Sports, Sabir Gojayev, Head of the Policy Department of Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, Davud Rahimli, President of the Union of Organizations of disables, and Esmira Akbarova, Head of the Analytical Expertise Center of the Ministry of Health thanked the organizers of the event and expressed their full support. The speeches stressed that the development of disability in many wounded people after the war in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 has led to a further increase in the need for AT in Azerbaijan and noted that the issue is very important for the country.

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