HI psychosocial agent at Rutshuru General Hospital in Rutshuru, Democratic Republic of Congo (North Kivu), talking with a beneficiary, conflict victim. | © Patrick Meinhardt / HI
The Executive Board of the World Health Organisation is meeting from 24th to 29th January, with delegations being present in Geneva and other stakeholders connecting online.
Prominent items on the agenda are the pandemic preparedness and response, the new action plan on non-communicable diseases, the immunization agenda, as well as WHO budget and administration matters.
Although rehabilitation is not part of the topics discussed, both the discussions around non-communicable diseases and COVID-19 are entry-points to highlight the importance of rehabilitation.
For this reason, HI and a number of rehabilitation-focused organisations, submitted join public statements to the attention of the Executive Board, stressing the need to strengthen the provision of rehabilitation services and assistive technologies for people affected by COVID-19, living with conditions that require continuous rehabilitation, and living with or recovering from non-communicable diseases. (Read our statement on rehabilitation and non-communicable diseases ; and our statement on rehabilitation and COVID-19).
“During the pandemic I was without my rehabilitation team or telerehabilitation for 3 months. I didn’t see a doctor for nearly a year” Mariana Solarte Caicedo, activist and rehabilitation user from Colombia.
The surge in needs for rehabilitation due to COVID-19 and non-communicable diseases cannot be ignored. Estimates from 2019 indicated that, globally, 2.4 billion people live with conditions that would benefit from rehabilitation. The prevalence of NCDs greatly contributes to this figure: in 2010, 50% of disability-adjusted life years were attributable to NCDs, in low and middle-income countries. In addition, more than half of the 236 million people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 worldwide do or will experience post-COVID symptoms. Most of them will need rehabilitation to facilitate long-term recovery.
Over the past years, we have been calling on Member States to leverage rehabilitation onto the agenda of the World Health Assembly. Setting commitments to advance rehabilitation, via a specific World Health Assembly’s resolution, cannot be further delayed.