Myanmar: Cornerstones laid for limb-fitting centre
18-01-2002 News Release 02/02
A joyful celebration has launched construction of a new limb-production and -fitting centre in Hpa-An, the capital of Karen state, in south-east Myanmar. On January 14, representatives of the ICRC, the Myanmar Red Cross Society, the authorities and Buddhist clerics gathered to lay the cornerstone. The ceremony coincided with the Karen New Year and the ceremony was followed by traditional Karen dances performed by people in colourful local dress.
A letter of understanding was signed on 6 December by the ICRC, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health and the Myanmar Red Cross. The structure should be completed by May, and the centre is expected to be fully operational two months later. Expectations are that after a year of operation the centre will be rehabilitating 40 amputees a month.
During the celebration, the local abbot performed a blessing ceremony and donations of robes, food and drink were made to the monks. In all, nine different stones were laid for each corner of the building.
The ICRC started its limb-fitting programme in Myanmar at the government-run National Rehabilitation Hospital in 1986. In 1988 a similar programme was initiated in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence at a military hospital in Yangon. In late 1989 a second military prosthetic service was set up in Pyin Oo Lwin, north of Mandalay.
In 1990 the ICRC started working jointly with the Ministries of Health and Defence and with the Myanmar Red Cross to identify, select, transport, accommodate, feed and fit with artificial limbs amputees from remotes areas – in particular border areas – free of charge.
Since then, the programme has produced some 3,000 prosthese s. Prosthesis production at the ICRC-supported centres went from 385 units in 1999 to 907 in 2000. In 2001 the total output was 2,150.