The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on wheelchair provision to address the global challenges faced by individuals who rely on wheelchairs for mobility. These guidelines were developed in collaboration with the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics and the International Society of Wheelchair Providers.
Access to appropriate wheelchairs is crucial for the physical and mental health, development, function, participation, and inclusion of wheelchair users. However, there are significant barriers to quality wheelchair provision globally. Many individuals either lack access to wheelchairs or receive inappropriate ones without proper guidance, leading to associated risks.
The new guidelines aim to improve access to suitable wheelchairs for all needy individuals, including children, older persons, people with mobility disabilities, and those with chronic health conditions. They apply to all countries and encompass all types of wheelchairs and wheelchair users. The guidelines emphasize that optimal outcomes in wheelchair access are achieved when users undergo an individualized assessment, fitting, training, and follow-up process by trained personnel. This necessitates establishing effective wheelchair provision systems integrated within healthcare and other sectors, including referral networks. Task-shifting and other strategies may be required to mobilize the necessary workforce. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure timely access to wheelchair services that are person-centered and responsive to users' needs.
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