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Disability Empowerment

Delivering Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology to Those in Need

Photo: Courtesy of Max Bender

The need for physical rehabilitation and assistive technology, such as wheelchairs, crutches, and canes, is an urgent and growing international issue. An estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide need these services to improve their quality of life and yet more than 80 percent do not have access to them in low- and middle-income countries. 

Globally, approximately 150 million children and adolescents experience disabilities, and injuries for people of all ages are becoming more frequent due to conflict, urbanization, and motorization. Many of those affected are amongst the poorest and most vulnerable in the world, living in low- and middle-income countries and countries in conflict.

Building health systems

The Learning, Acting and Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems Consortium (ReLAB-HS) is a global project supporting the development of health systems that can respond to the growing needs for rehabilitation within these countries. 

Started in 2021 and generously funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the consortium is beginning its work to help these countries develop innovative, cost-effective solutions that will dramatically improve their ability to provide vital rehabilitation, as well as life-changing assistive technology, which will allow those with disabilities to live more functional, independent lives, with a better quality of life. 

ReLAB-HS wants to make sure rehabilitation and assistive technology services are a key part of care within health systems. It is led by the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA (JH-IIRU). With partners around the world, they will share knowledge and expertise, and transform the rehabilitation sector in partner countries including Pakistan, Ukraine and Uganda. 

Coming together

The ReLAB-HS consortium is made up of six international partners with expertise in health systems, innovation, and rehabilitation. Along with JH-IIRU, it is co-led by the Institute for Global Health, Australia, and includes Humanity & Inclusion, MiracleFeet, PhysioPedia, and UCP Wheels for Humanity.

ReLAB-HS is funded by an award from USAID’s Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) and presents a genuine opportunity to provide real improvements in quality of life, functionality, and independence for many people through simple interventions at the primary care level, and the use of technology to bring rehabilitation further into community settings.

If you’d like to know more about this life-changing project, head to the ReLAB-HS website, and sign up for the consortium newsletter for regular updates. 

ReLAB-HS is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented under cooperative agreement number 7200AA20CA00033. The consortium is managed by prime recipient Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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