Better wheelchair service provision in Tajikistan

WHO/Satish Mishra

Tajikistan's Ministry of Health and Social Protection, in cooperation with the WHO disability rehabilitation team and Mobility India, and with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), conducted basic training in wheelchair services in December 2015. 42 participants from Tajikistan and Kazakhstan learnt how to correctly fit, modify and adapt wheelchairs for various users; to service wheelchairs; and to train users in using their new chairs.

WHO, in partnership with USAID, has prepared global training programmes to develop the minimum skills and knowledge necessary for people delivering wheelchairs and services. A well-functioning wheelchair provision system with appropriately trained personnel results in the best possible degree of personal mobility.

Appropriate assistive devices promote an inclusive society

Assistive devices – such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, crutches and glasses – open up opportunities for social life, work and education. When an assistive device is appropriate for the user and the user's environment, it can enhance the independence and participation of people with disabilities and contribute to better health and quality of life. A wheelchair is appropriate when it meets the user's needs and environmental conditions, provides a proper fit and postural support, is safe and durable and can be obtained and maintained in the country with sustained services at an affordable cost. 

WHO estimates that more than 70 million people globally need a wheelchair, which is one of the most commonly used assistive devices for enhancing personal mobility; but only 5–15% of these people have access to one. The number of people with disabilities is projected to increase as populations age, because older people are more likely to be disabled, and because of the global increase in chronic conditions, especially common noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, stroke and cancer. Other factors such as road traffic injuries and natural disasters contribute to increasing numbers of people with disabilities, with a corresponding increase in the need for assistive devices.