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Implementation of the Assistive Product List (APL) in Malawi through development of appropriate policy and systems: an action research protocol
  1. Ikenna D Ebuenyi1,
  2. Emma M Smith1,
  3. Juba Kafumba2,
  4. Monica Z Jamali2,
  5. Alister Munthali2,
  6. Malcolm MacLachlan1,3
  1. 1Assisting Living & Learning (ALL) Institute, Department of Psychology, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland
  2. 2Centre for Social Research, University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi
  3. 3Olomouc University Social Health Institute (OUSHI), Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ikenna D Ebuenyi; ikenna.ebuenyi{at}


Introduction Assistive technology (AT) is important for the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) for persons with disabilities (PWD). Increasingly, studies suggest a significant gap between the need for and demand for and provisions of AT for PWD in low-income and middle-income settings. Evidence from high income countries highlights the importance of robust AT policies to the achievement of the recommendations of the World Health Assembly on AT. In Malawi, there is no standalone AT policy. The objectives of the Assistive Product List Implementation Creating Enablement of inclusive SDGs (APPLICABLE) project, are to propose and facilitate the development of a framework for creating effective national AT policy and specify a system capable of implementing such policies in low-income countries such as Malawi.

Method and analysis We propose an action research process with stakeholders in AT in Malawi. APPLICABLE will adopt an action research paradigm, through developing a shared research agenda with stakeholders and including users of AT. This involves the formation of an Action Research Group that will specify the priorities for practice—and policy-based evidence, in order to facilitate the development of contextually realistic and achievable policy aspirations on AT in Malawi and provide system strengthening recommendations that will ensure that the policy is implementable for their realisation. We will undertake an evaluation of this policy by measuring supply and support for specific AT prior to, and following the implementation of the policy recommendations.

Ethics and dissemination The study protocol was approved by Maynooth University Research Ethics Committee (SRESC-2019-2378566) and University of Malawi Research Ethics Committee (P.01/20/10). Findings from the study will be disseminated by publication in peer-reviewed journals, presentations to stakeholders in Malawi, Ireland and international audiences at international conferences.

  • rehabilitation medicine
  • public health
  • social medicine
  • health policy

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  • Presented at The abstract was accepted for presentation at the 6th African Network for Evidence-to-Action in Disability (AfriNEAD) Conference that will held in South Africa in December 2020.

  • Contributors IDE and MM conceptualised the protocol with significant contributions from EMS and AM. IDE wrote the initial draft which was reviewed by EMS, JK, MZJ, AM and MM. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by funding from the Irish Research Council (IRC) grant number-COALESCE/2019/114.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.