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Free artificial limbs facility launched

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People with disabilities must be helped to compete with the rest of the world on an equal footing.—Open source media
People with disabilities must be helped to compete with the rest of the world on an equal footing.—Open source media

KARACHI: A state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre for physically challenged people was launched on Friday at The Indus Hospital (TIH) in a ceremony.

The facility developed in collaboration with the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and Chal Foundation will manufacture and fit between 2,000 and 2,500 artificial limbs free of cost every year. It will also assess, counsel and train disabled persons to help them get maximum benefits from the use of these devices.

“Assistive devices transform lives. It is a moment of great joy for us to launch a rehabilitation centre for our brothers and sisters who are in desperate need of such equipment but cannot afford it,” said TIH chairman Siddique Shaikh, while addressing the gathering.

People with disabilities must be helped to compete with the rest of the world on an equal footing, he added.

Take a look: MPRC – helping thousands of disabled relive their dreams

Citing the World Health Organisation guidelines, chief executive officer of Chal Foundation Dr Bakht Sarwar said that though there was no census on disabled population in the country, it was estimated that Pakistan nearly had one million physically challenged people, who were in need of prosthetics (artificial limbs) and orthotics (braces made to correct or support a deformity).

“The number must be larger given the fact that the country has been a victim of terrorism for a long time and still facing the threat. It is prone to natural disasters. Besides, our population is fast increasing and we also host a large number of Afghan refugees,” he said.

According to Dr Sarwar, with a population of 45 million people, Sindh is estimated to have about 450,000 people in need of prosthetics and orthotics services.

The average lifespan of a device is three years that means that the province requires 150,000 such devices every year.

“The present capacity (of manufacturing such devices) is less than 5,000 per year. The province needs 60 rehabilitation centres like the one we have built in the Indus Hospital, but we currently just have two,” he said.

President of the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry Rashid Ahmed Siddiqui, also the chief guest, appreciated efforts of the organisations and the hospital and said that philanthropists in Karachi were playing a critical role in helping disadvantaged sections of the society.

The speakers emphasised that prosthetics and orthotics related rehabilitation services should not be developed in isolation, but rather as an integral part of health services with the help of private-public collaboration.

They also called for strengthening the capacity and quality of existing rehabilitation centres.

The audience was informed that a similar rehabilitation centre funded and supported by the Indus Hospital and the two organisations had also been established in Muzaffargarh, Punjab.

Chief executive officer of TIH Dr Abdul Bari Khan and Reto Stocker representing the ICRC also spoke.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2015

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