Abkhazia/Georgia: Help continues for landmine victims
03-06-2003 News Release 03/64
The ICRC and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Abkhazia last week signed a cooperation agreement on limb-fitting activities. The agreement is valid until the end of 2003 and will ensure continuation of joint efforts to provide quality service at the Gagra prosthetic/orthotic centre.
Cooperation will focus on maintaining the current level of limb-fitting activities, ensuring that everyone who needs artificial legs, orthotic devices and walking aids can use the centre in Gagra. The ICRC is gradually handing over to the health authorities, and in 2003 the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will take responsibility for human resources, technical activities, stock management and the patient database. The ICRC will continue to help fund the programme, and to provide technical advice and training.
Landmines have claimed numerous victims in Abkhazia, and many of them have lost a limb. In 1994, the ICRC began working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to set up a modern programme aimed primarily at producing artificial limbs to international standards for people from all over Abkhazia, free of charge and without discrimination. The second aim is to train everyone who works in this field, so that the health authorities of the country can continue to provide quality limb-fitting services into the future.
Since the two organizations started working together in 1994, the ICRC and the Ministry have set up a new limb-fitting centre in Gagra, producing artificial legs, related orthotic devices, and walking aids. Between 1998 and 2000, six local orthopaedic technicians undertook an internationally recognised course. Since 1994, some 610 patients have benefited from the programme – more than half of them victims of the armed conflict. Together, they have received 1,161 artificial limbs, 134 orthotic devices, 506 pairs of crutches and 37 wheelchairs.
Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 24 58