Thursday, September 19, 2013

Philippines School of Prosthetics and Orthotics at the United Nations

The Philippines School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (PSPO), established at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, Inc (UERMMMCI) in 2010, is taking part in a United Nations High Level meeting on disability and development.

PSPO is part of an international network with The Cambodia Trust, Nippon Foundation and UERMMMCI as partners. The main goal of these organizations is to empower people with disabilities, especially the poor, by providing access to mobility devices - like artificial limbs - as a first step to inclusion, equality and opportunity.
Representatives of PSPO, including Dr Josephine 'Penny' Bundoc, program director of the Physicians for Peace-Philippines Walking Free program, and Raissa Laurel, who lost her legs in the 2010 Bar exams blast on Taft Avenue, Manila, will  take part in an initiative that will culminate in the Outcome  Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability, which aims to change the world for people with disabilities. Penny and Raissa will have the opportunity to address this meeting.

The UN High Level meeting involving the world's governments (known as 'The Way Forward') will build on the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, by ensuring that global development processes include people with disabilities, to help realise the overall objective of full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society.

PSPO is also contributing to a high profile, multi-agency 'side event' organised by the Philippine Government, World Health Organization and United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs. It is called 'Assistive Technology Opens Doors'. Other sponsors include The Nippon Foundation and The Cambodia Trust, Physicians for Peace Walking Free  Philippines, International Disability Alliance, International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, Nippon Foundation, Rehabilitation International, USAID and UNICEF.
Commenting on the importance of United Nations' action on disability, Dr Penny Bundoc said, 'Over 1 billion people, or 15% of the world population, live with disabilities. They are the world’s largest and most disadvantaged group, are disproportionately represented among the poor and lack equal access to basic resources like education, employment, transport, healthcare and social and legal support systems. Despite this, disability has been largely invisible in most mainstream development processes.'

She continued, 'The UN focus on implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will change this by highlighting governments' responsibilities and obligations and will make it easier for organizations like PSPO and The Cambodia Trust to break the cycle of exclusion, poverty and lack of opportunity which 'traps' so many people with disabilities.'      

Assistive Technology (AT) refers to any number of devices that help people with disabilities to overcome barriers.  These could range from devices like walkers, artificial limbs and wheelchairs to specialized computer hardware and software. AT assists children with disabilities to access education, helps adults to be economically empowered  or reduce poverty and often bridges the gap between exclusion and inclusion by providing a first step towards opportunity and independence.

Despite its importance, 85-95% people with disabilities do not have access to assistive devices, with the problem most acute in low- and mid-income countries. The aim of the UN side event on AT is driven by the huge disparity between need and access and the fact that UN Standard Rules define AT as a precondition for equal rights and opportunities.

The event will discuss 'Global Alliance of Assistive Technology' (GATE), a new worldwide initiative which aims to improve access to and the quality of assistive devices and will aim specifically to fulfill an obligation of Article 32 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This Article asks for international cooperation to increase access to AT and the event will address key questions around this issue, including developing a global response, involving people with disabilities and their families, the role of different types of organisation and how the global community can support UN Member States to fulfill AT obligations.  

As part of this process, UERMMMCI-PSPO will be used as a best practice example of what can be achieved in providing access to AT through an international, multi-agency  approach and the UN will hear from people with disabilities who have used the School's services.


Further Information

Dr Penny Bundoc, PSPO
T: +63 91890 31798  

Penny Bundoc and Raissa Laurel are available for interview before and after the UN High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development. 

Notes for Editors:

More information on the UN focus on disability can be found at:
UN Higher Level Meeting on Disability and Development, 23rd September 2013 in New York -

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -