Rehabilitation has never been more important than now

“Rehabilitation 2030: a call for action” commits to strengthening and extending rehabilitation in countries worldwide.

On the 6th and 7th of February a number of world experts in rehabilitation met to address the need for more services around the world. They called for individual, national and international support to enhance services around the world and incorporate rehabilitation into universal health coverage.

The WHO have made a call for action asking participants to commit towards:

  1. Building comprehensive service delivery models
  2. Developing a strong multidisciplinary workforce
  3. Expanding financing mechanisms and enhancing health information systems
  4. Strong leadership and political support to underpin these efforts

With an aging population and a rise of non-communicable disease there is a substantial increase in the need for rehabilitation around the world. There is a strong evidence base demonstrating the effectiveness of rehabilitation at reducing cost, improving quality of life and reducing impact of disability. Sadly these services are often underfunded or poorly coordinated and with spiralling healthcare costs this is unacceptable.

This is even more alarming when you consider that we are already working at a service provision deficit. Today, for example, the prevalence of severely disabling conditions that require rehabilitation has increased by nearly 183 million compared to 2005 – a 23% increase in just over a decade. Immediate action is needed to relieve the ever increasing financial burden of preventable diseases.

Rehabilitation 2030 also served as an opportunity to release the new WHO guide Rehabilitation in health systems, which outlines recommendations for Member States and other relevant stakeholders on the concrete steps needed to strengthen and expand the availability of quality rehabilitation services. Intended for health and other policy-makers, and in line with the call for action, the guide’s recommendations bring to light issues such as service delivery, financing, training and research on rehabilitation, as well as assistive technologies like wheelchairs, eye glasses and hearing aids. The recommendations also highlight the value of ensuring that rehabilitation services are delivered equitably at all levels of the health system.

In the years ahead, WHO, along with its many partners in rehabilitation, will continue to support Member States to implement the evidence-based recommendations reflected in the new guide and others launched in previous years including the Community-based rehabilitation guidelines; develop tools and training packages, such as the country toolkit for strengthening rehabilitation currently under development; and collect information relevant to rehabilitation utilising the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health.

Have you got any innovative rehab services you’ve been involved in? We’d love to hear about them so get in touch!