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The orthopaedic project of the ICRC in Afghanistan

15-12-1999 Operational Update

Since 1986 the ICRC has been present in Afghanistan and has maintained sub-delegations throughout the country. Its principal activities include, support to medical structures, assistance to the most vulnerable, agricultural rehabilitation programmes and veterinary services, visiting detainees and in the framework of the ICRC's mandate, the promotion of the humanitarian law and rules, and strengthening of the Red Crescent Society in Afghanistan.

 The Orthopaedic Project  

The orthopaedic project of the ICRC in Afghanistan started in Kabul during 1988. Based on the expressed needs of the war-victims it was decided to extend its service country-wide. In 1991 an orthopaedic branch was opened in Mazar-i-Sharif, in 1993 in Herat and in 1995 in Jalalabad. As due to a shift of the front-lines many amputees awaiting treatment could not reach the existing facilities and a temporary orthopaedic project opened in Gulbahar in November 1999. Presently four Ortho centres remain operational and attend the needs of several hundreds each year.

Since 1995, due to the big demand and the almost complete absence of other structures, the assistance has been extended to treat non-amputees and non-war-wounded patients. The main pathologies are poliomyelitis, spine injuries, cerebral palsy, congenital and acquired deformities. In 1998 some 698 additional Polio patients came to Ortho centres.

 
 

 Production  

 Prostheses  

 Orthoses  

 Crutches (pairs)  

 Wheelchairs  

1995

3'710

558

5'571

520

1996

4'443

1'550

5'921

590

1997

4'603

2'948

6'181

651

1998

4'235

3'966

7'752

733

Jan - Nov. 1999

4'237

5'118

8'761

785

TOTAL

21,228

14'140

34'186

3'279

    

During a conflict in areas with no adequate health facilities or when the local hospitals cease to function, the ICRC may set up or assist maintaining operational surgical facilities to ensure emergency treatment for the war wounded. Similarly ICRC may provide orthopaedic facilities for those who have fallen victim to the conflict and/or by land-mines or unexploded ordinance (UXO).

Since the beginning of the activities in 1988 up to date

 
 

Patients registered

34'084

Prostheses made

30'086

Orthoses made

15'336

Crutches made in pairs

62'076

Wheelchairs made

5'054

The ICRC Ortho Centre Programmes in Afghanistan is a major component of its operational activities, which aim to address the direct and lasting consequences of the conflict, by compensating for weaknesses in the social safety net/and reinforcing local community structures.

 
 

    

 Mahmood twice a victim, feeds his family  

Mahmood was working on his farm, when he stepped on a land-mine and lost his leg. The second time he was injured whilst sleeping with his family in his house when a jet-fighter dropped a bomb on his house. He sustained serious injuries which resulted in the amputation of his right arm.

Mahmood's amputation took place at the ICRC supported Karta-e-Seh hospital. He was then referred to the ICRC orthopaedic centre where he was fitted with artificial limbs and had received extensive rehabilitation to adapt to his new limbs.

Today, Mahmood is working in the production workshop of the Orthopaedic centre and feels proud to have taken his place as an active member of the society.

 Ref. LG 1999-213-ENG