Image credits: Dan Vernon for MiracleFeet and Abdul Bachani for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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The need for physical rehabilitation and assistive technology services is an urgent and growing global issue. The proportion of the population over 60 will double in the next 30 years the majority of whom will live with chronic disease. Approximately 150 million children and adolescents experience disabilities, and injuries for people of all ages are becoming more frequent due to conflict, rapid urbanization and motorization. These enormous unmet rehabilitation needs are concentrated amongst the poorest and most vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries and conflict-affected settings.

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Learning, Acting and Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems Consortium (ReLAB-HS) is a global project that will support the development of health systems that are responsive to the growing needs for rehabilitation within populations. It seeks to co-design and implement innovative, comprehensive, cost-effective interventions that strengthen health systems for provision of rehabilitation, including assistive technology. ReLAB-HS will focus on integrating rehabilitation and assistive technology services across all levels of care within health systems. The ReLAB-HS consortium comprises of six international partners with expertise in health systems, implementation science, and delivery innovations.

The five-year program will work globally and initially concentrate on a number of low- and middle-income countries affected by conflict, with varying levels of rehabilitation need and infrastructure. ReLAB-HS presents a genuine opportunity to provide real improvements in the 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.

ReLAB-HS will be led by the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA, and co-led by the Nossal Institute for Global Health, Australia. Other global partners include Humanity & Inclusion, MiracleFeet, Physiopedia, and UCP Wheels for Humanity.

ReLAB-HS is funded by an award from USAID’s Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF).

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