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NRC to Introduce National Assistive Device Program

NRC to Introduce National Assistive Device Program

The Manager of the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), Ismaila Kebbie has disclosed that NRC will soon introduce the National Assistive Devices Program (NADP) in a bid to increase access on supply of Assistive Devices for people with temporal/permanent physical disability.

According to the Manager/Senior Physiotherapist, who is working in the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Department at the Connaught Teaching Hospital, Percival Street in Freetown, the background and clinical function of NRC is to improve accessibility, equitability and quality rehabilitation services in Sierra Leone, noting that they also provide the required capacity to achieve physical, mental and social wellbeing for persons living with disability.

Manager Kebbie noted that, because of the lack of inadequate supply of assistive devices by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), couple with the ill-managed distribution of assistive devices to the wrong persons by various International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other local humanitarian organizations, the most vulnerable were left out. NRC, he said, will soon initiate a National Assistive Device Program to facilitate the access of assistive devices across the country such as Wheelchairs, crouches, artificial feet or hands among other assistive devices.

He said the essence of the program is to provide quality equipment for persons living with disability, adding that the background behind this whole process are to increase accessibility to people in need of these essential assistive devices and that the number of people in need of these devices is on the increase.

“We are setting up this program to make sure that the assistive devices be available for every Sierra Leonean with disability and we are currently in the process to develop the program in collaboration with key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children Affairs (MSWGCA), Handicap International, National Commission for persons with Disability (NCPD), NGOs, Rotary Club, Latter Day Saints, Disable persons organizations among others, “Manager Kebbie divulged.

He said the motive is to have a sustainable National Assistive Devices Program across the country with the training of more Physiotherapists and that their key challenge for now is the location of the Aberdeen Centre, which he said is not friendly for staff and patients due to the fact that access roads have been occupied by business people.

He however appealed to the Government and other donor partners to assist the centre with funding to address the alarming shortage of water supply, which he said is caused by community people who usually fetch water around the compound, in the process, destroying the pipes of the centre.

The Senior Physiotherapist continued that, the centre is now fully integrated under the Ministry of Health and Sanitation with four functioning departments, which include the Rehabilitative Department, Physiotherapy, Prosthetics &Orthotics, Clubfoot Clinic and the Assistive Device Clinic Department.

He described the work of the Physiotherapy team as critical and technical without having enough equipment to handle tedious task and that the team helps people affected by injury, illness, disability through movement & exercise, manual therapy, education and advice.

He went on further to state that the centre also caters for the health of people of all ages; helping patients to manage pains, maximize functional independence and prevent diseases, whilst the Prosthetic & Orthotic department deals with designing, producing and also fitting medical supportive devices such as artificial limbs for persons with amputations and braces for preventing /correcting joint Misalignment as a result of injury or disease.

He noted that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation is working very hard with its International partners, including key stakeholders like NGOs within the country, to address the situation and called on the general public for collaborative effort and awareness raising platform to make the process successful.

He cautioned various NGOs and donor partners to stop donating wrongly to unaffected people who misuse the assistive devices, especially wheelchairs for selling ice-cream on the streets instead of contacting the centre for official donation, so as to give credit to the process with the correct or intended beneficiaries.

By Alhassan Bangura

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