Public health, innovation, intellectual property and trade

Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology - About us

Assistive Technology - Lady consulting digital calendar


To assist Member States to improve access to assistive technology as a part of Universal Health Coverage.


A world where everyone in need has access to high-quality, affordable assistive products to lead a healthy, productive and dignified life.


Key stakeholders at a side event of the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development, New York, United States of America, 23 September 2013, requested WHO to develop and coordinate a global initiative to realize the obligations of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities towards increasing access to assistive technology (article 32 in particular).

In response to this, WHO organized a key stakeholders meeting in Geneva on 3 and 4 July 2014 and established a global initiative: the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE). This is in partnership with stakeholders who represent international organizations, donor agencies, professional organizations, academia, and user groups.

Our work

The GATE initiative has only one goal: to improve access to high-quality affordable assistive products globally. To achieve this, the GATE initiative is focusing on five interlinked areas (5P): people, policy, products, provision and personnel


Involving users—and their families—in all interventions is crucial to fully realize the vision and mission of WHO’s GATE initiative. A user-centred approach is critical to make sure that users’ needs are addressed when developing policies and provision services. Services should not just be physically accessible but also culturally appropriate and tailored to users’ needs. WHO not only promotes a user-centred approach, but also works closely with users and user groups.


WHO is developing tools to support countries in developing national policy and programmes to ensure everyone, everywhere can access assistive products. The toolkit will include an assistive technology assessment toolkit and guidance on financing mechanisms, such as health and welfare insurance programmes, to ensure sustainability of service provision and universal access. It will also include guidance on implementation of the Priority Assistive Products List, minimum standards, appropriate training and service provision.


In May 2016, WHO launched the Priority Assistive Products List, which includes a list of minimum 50 products selected on the basis of widespread need and impact on people’s lives. The Priority Assistive Products List encourages countries to develop a list of national priority products, and is a guide to enhance production, procurement and service provision, to develop reimbursement policies and to shape markets. Future work will also relate to standards and procurement for priority assistive products.


WHO is developing guidance on innovative models of service provision, including good-practice examples from across the globe. Fundamental components include the integration of assistive products service provision into the health system, and a network of specialist referral centres connected to the primary health care infrastructure. This would enable most people to access assistive products for all their functional needs from a single point and would support universal access and early intervention.


WHO is developing an Assistive Products Training Package on provision of a range of simple assistive products selected from the APL; including assessment and prescription, fitting and user training, follow-up, maintenance and repairs. The package will support countries in building the capacity of their community-level workforce.