New USAID Award for Strengthening Physical Rehabilitation in Health Systems

December 18, 2020

MiracleFeet is delighted to join the Learning, Acting and Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems consortium (ReLAB-HS). Along with consortium partners, we will implement this flagship program that will address the growing global need for physical rehabilitation, including appropriate assistive technology, services. ReLAB-HS is funded by an award from the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF).

ReLab-HS aims to strengthen the development of responsive and sustainable physical rehabilitation services across the lifespan in the communities where they are most needed, as well as building health system governance and employing the use of technology and digital assets to improve physical rehabilitation globally.

The need for physical rehabilitation services, including assistive technology, is urgent and growing.

More than 2.4 billion people worldwide are estimated to benefit from physical rehabilitation services. 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.

This five-year, $39.5 million program will transform the way people think about physical rehabilitation as part of health systems. It will work globally and in a number of low- and middle-income countries with varying levels of physical rehabilitation need and infrastructure. ReLAB-HS presents a genuine opportunity to provide real improvements in the quality of life, functionality and independence for people through simple interventions at the primary care level, and the use of technology to bring physical rehabilitation further into community settings.

ReLAB-HS will focus on building local and international leadership, crafting local, demand-driven approaches and innovations, and working largely in community and at home settings, implementing real and relevant rehabilitation and policy solutions.

“We are thrilled about this very significant investment in physical rehabilitation by USAID,” said MiracleFeet CEO Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld. “This project will make critical rehab services more available for millions living with debilitating conditions by harnessing technology and building referral pathways to drive delivery of high quality care down to the primary health care level.  MiracleFeet, which focuses on increasing access to treatment for children born with clubfoot, a birth defect that affects one in every 800 children born worldwide, is extremely excited to be part of this larger consortium working to further integrate physical rehabilitation across all levels of health systems.”

“With ReLAB-HS partners, we will lay the groundwork and build innovative tools to address serious gaps in global and national-level protocols for identifying, referring, and treating conditions like clubfoot—early and systematically. A referral pathway that works for a common birth defect can also serve those who need wheelchairs or other assistive devices, physical therapy for strokes or accidents, and other rehab care. By working together, we can mainstream physical rehabilitation to make a radical difference in the overall quality of life and health of people with disabilities.”

ReLAB-HS will be led through 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 consortium members include Humanity and Inclusion, Physiopedia, and UCP Wheels for Humanity.

MiracleFeet looks forward to working in partnership on this program to support the development responsive rehabilitation services that can meet this escalating global challenge.