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Ethiopia: Help for over 2,000 war-disabled

27-09-2001 News Release 01/38

For the past 12 months, the ICRC has helped provide more than 2,000 war-disabled with artificial limbs and orthotic devices through a unique project called Patient Support Services (PSS) in which the organization pays the cost of services such as production and fitting of prostheses and physical rehabilitation for war-disabled people. The average cost of an artificial limb produced in Ethiopia is 850 birrs (100 US dollars).

The PSS project aims to foster sustainability for existing limb-fitting centres and promote on their part responsibility in meeting their own costs. This is to be done by means of a cost-recovery system and generation of income from services to war victims. ICRC specialists regularly visit the centres and give technical advice to the staff. The quality of artificial limbs produced locally has been improved by importing modern materials from Switzerland. The ICRC donates a range of such materials to the workshops in Addis Ababa, Mekele, Dessie and Harar.

The organization has also launched a scheme to provide access to the centres for people in need of artificial limbs, in which it pays for transport and room and board during their stay there. After her left leg was badly burned in a bombing four years ago, the only way for 20-year-old Zineth to move around was with a wooden crutch. " People looked at me as if I were no longer human " , she says, echoing many other victims. " Now I have a stable and comfortable ortho-prosthesis. I don't need a crutch anymore and I can go back to school without being ashamed of myself. "

The ICRC encourages other international agencies and Ethiopian businesses to participate in this project in order to ensure the same level of services over the long term. So far, the ICRC has invested some 530,000 dollars in the project.