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Measuring access to assistive technology in Nepal | Country Report

by Nirdesh Baral
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Measuring access to assistive technology in Nepal | Country Report : Evidence based research findings on the use, need and unmet need is a key metric for planning and improving access to Assistive Products (AP). It is estimated that only 5-15% of people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) who need assistive technology (AT) have access to them with few availabilities, affordability and trained personnel. In Nepal, accurate data on the needs of AP is still not yet known. With a growing population of older age, increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Nepal, the number of people needing AT is certain to rise. Therefore, the study aims to measure access to AT in Nepal.

Key Findings of Measuring access to assistive technology in Nepal | Country Report

  •  The mean age of the total participants was 34±21.5 year. More than half of the participants (52.6%) were female. Majority of the sampled population (55.3%) were from rural areas.
  • Majority of the participants (57.9%) had no difficulty followed by 28.4% of the participants who had some level of difficulty in doing certain activities because of a health condition. At least some level of difficulty was seen highest in seeing/vision domain (32%) followed by mobility (16.9%). Overall functional difficulties increased with increase in age. Almost half of the participants (46.4%) aged >65 years had some level of difficulty. Participants living in urban areas had more difficulty level (42.4%) as compared to the ones living in rural areas (34.8%). Majority of the participants living in Bagmati province (42.8%) had at least some level of difficulty as compared to other provinces.
  • The prevalence of use of any AP currently was found to be 27.7%. Among the participants who could not do any activities without assistance, more than half of them (51.6%) used any AP. Use of AP increased with increase in age: half of the participants aged >65 years (50.6%) used any AP. The use of AP was seen higher in urban areas (28.2%) as compared to rural areas (15.1%). The use of AP was seen highest in Bagmati province (28.9%) as compared to other provinces.

Conclusion
The nationwide rATA survey has demonstrated clear gaps in access to assistive products in Nepal with high prevalence of use and unmet needs. It is transparent from the findings of the survey that functional difficulties, use and unmet needs of AP is seen higher in older age group. Functional difficulties and use of AP is seen higher in participants living in urban areas, however, the unmet need of AP is seen higher in rural areas. Lack of support, unaffordability and lack of time remains the main barrier to access AP. Therefore, the survey calls for creative solutions to improve access to assistive products that can be easily sourced, is accessible and affordable and suitable to be used.

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