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Afghanistan: Home-care programme stepped up in Kabul

05-04-2001 News Release 01/13

Eighty persons were recently accepted as new beneficiaries of the ICRC’s home-care programme in Kabul. Identified during recent relief distributions, all are partially or totally paralysed by spinal cord injuries. The organization’s home-care staff will soon start providing them with rehabilitation, economic aid and medical, psychological and social care within their community.

Based at the ICRC's physical rehabilitation centre in Kabul, the programme is already assisting 323 individuals. It focuses on people who in most cases live in and around Kabul city and have very little, if any, social contact beyond their families. Depending on the injury and the patient’s present condition, the home-care team visits him or her once a week, or once or twice a month.

" Most of our patients have been injured by walls falling on them, by shelling or by gunshot wounds during the time of the fighting in Kabul”, explained Lisa White, the ICRC physiotherapist in charge of the programme. “Others may have had an accident or suffered a disease that has paralysed them for life. All of them have, at some point, received treatment here at the centre. But they desperately need follow-up and further care at home. "

The programme has been running since 1996. Besides receiving specialized physiotherapy and treatment for pressure sores in their homes, the home-care team provides the victim’s family with food rations for three months at a time and gives the patient the opportunity to take out small loans aimed at enabling him to start some type of small business.

The programme’s objective is not simply to treat the patients at home because the y have no access to rehabilitation elsewhere, it is also to help the victim’s loved ones understand the disability. “We take the time to teach the family how to assist them with basic daily tasks such as getting into and out of a wheelchair and doing their exercises”, Ms White said. “And we encourage them to find ways to have as normal a life as possible within their communities. "

Owing to the high proportion of paralysis victims in Kabul’s population, that is the only place where the home-care programme is currently operating. However, for amputees and others requiring orthopaedic care the ICRC also has physical rehabilitation centres in Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad and Gulbahar. To date, over 42,000 patients have been treated at the centres.