WHO–Ukraine event on rehabilitation, assistive technology and disability inclusion in conflict

Date: Mar 07 2023

Time: to CET


On 7 March, WHO/Europe, the WHO Country Office in Ukraine and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine will host a public event highlighting truly urgent issues: people’s rehabilitation needs, disability inclusion, and the use of assistive technology in the context of the health response to the ongoing war.

Participants will include WHO experts, rehabilitation experts, and representatives from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the Office of the President of Ukraine. They will discuss how WHO and health authorities have been collaborating in this critical area since the outbreak of war on 24 February 2022.

Rehabilitation, assistive technology and disability inclusion in Ukraine

In the midst of the ongoing war in Ukraine, WHO is stepping up its efforts to support health authorities in strengthening rehabilitation and assistive technology services to enhance disability inclusion in the country. 

Before the war, over 2.7 million people in Ukraine were registered as living with disabilities, but this number has likely increased amid the violence. Thousands of people with complex conflict-related injuries require short-term and long-term rehabilitation services.

At the same time, the need for rehabilitation for issues not directly related to the war, such as noncommunicable diseases, ageing or accidents, also continues. Many people in Ukraine rely on assistive technologies, such as mobility aids and self-care products, which may get damaged or left behind during evacuations. Disruptions to public transport and unstable electricity and water supply due to attacks against critical infrastructure also hinder the functioning of hospitals and citizens’ access to health care.

WHO continues to deliver lifesaving medical supplies across Ukraine amid ongoing attacks on civilian and critical infrastructure and, with the support of international partners and governments, provides rehabilitation and assistive technology services. Besides targeted interventions, WHO is working closely with the relevant ministries in Ukraine to achieve rapid systemic changes through policy work. 

About the event   

The following speakers will participate in the online event:

  • Ms Iuliia Sokolovska, Deputy Head, Office of the President of Ukraine  
  • Dr Viktor Liashko, Minister of Health of Ukraine 
  • Dr Volodymyr Golyk, National Professional Officer, Disability and Rehabilitation, WHO Country Office in Ukraine 
  • Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine, Head of WHO Country Office in Ukraine 
  • Dr Satish Mishra, Technical Officer, Disability, Rehabilitation, Palliative and Long-term Care, WHO/Europe 
  • Dr Cathal Morgan, Technical Officer, Disability, Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology, WHO/Europe
  • Ms Marlee Elizabeth Quinn, Regional Advisor, Disability Inclusion and Rehabilitation in Emergencies, WHO/Europe 
  • Ms Tatiana Baryshok, Physical Therapist, Khortytsya National Rehabilitation Academy, Ukrainian Association of Physical Therapists 
  • Mr Aasish Ranjan, Project Coordinator, Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Project. 

Topics will include: 

  • WHO’s work related to law, policy and service provision in the context of the war in Ukraine 
  • WHO's rehabilitation, assistive technology and disability inclusion strategy
  • WHO's partnerships and collaborations with international and local organizations, and key ministries. 

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian.  


Before the invasion on 24 February 2022, WHO/Europe and the WHO Country Office in Ukraine were already active in Ukraine, supporting the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Policy and other state agencies in integrating rehabilitation into the national health system. A regional report had shown that the need for rehabilitation services in Ukraine was already significant.

Data from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease study indicated that 1 in 2 people in Ukraine had at least 1 condition that would benefit from rehabilitation. That number is considered to be an underestimate, however, as it concerned only the rehabilitation needs of people with noncommunicable diseases. 

In August 2020, WHO assessed the situation of rehabilitation in the Ukrainian health system, resulting in a report the following year. The report outlined the achievements, needs and opportunities related to rehabilitation in Ukraine. 

The Ministry of Health also recognized rehabilitation as a key component of universal health coverage. This was exemplified by the adoption of the new law “About rehabilitation in health care”, signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in December 2020, and subsequent by-laws that embedded multidisciplinary rehabilitation into the Ukrainian health system at all levels. 

WHO then initiated a national analysis of assistive technologies in 2021 to assess the status of assistive technology services and areas for development.   

This work and established relations ensured that WHO could respond rapidly to the emergency in Ukraine early in 2022. WHO’s support to Ukraine to date has been significant, with coordinated development of rehabilitation service delivery and rapid systemic changes achieved through policies developed with the ministries of health and social policy. 


Europe & Central Asia

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