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ICRC lays the cornerstone of the Muzaffarabad Physical Rehabilitation Centre

09-10-2006 News Release 06/114

Geneva/Islamabad (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) laid the cornerstone today of the Physical Rehabilitation Centre in Muzaffarabad (PRCM), one year to the day after the devastating earthquake of 8 October 2005.

Amna Kareem, a four-year-old beneficiary of the ICRC referral programme, is madly excited about being able to walk again, now that she has been fitted with an above-knee prosthesis. A wall fell on her during the earthquake, and her leg had to be amputated. " Before I had [the prosthesis ] , I used to feel guilty. Now I feel very well, I can walk, and I can go back to school where nobody even notices that I had a problem with my leg " , she exclaims.

Amna is one of many who need physical rehabilitation to live normally. The ICRC is committed to helping people resume normal lives, and the fact that construction has started on the PRCM is a milestone on that journey.

The multidisciplinary team to be posted to the PRCM will provide patients from earthquake-affected regions and from all over Pakistan-administered Kashmir with free consultations, pre-prosthetic and orthotic physiotherapy, prosthetic devices for lower and upper limb amputees, orthotic devices for polio victims, crutches and wheelchairs, corrective surgery, accommodation and meals. The centre will be equipped to manufacture up to 1,000 individual orthopaedic devices per year, and will allow male and female patients to receive gait-training physiotherapy separately.

The separate dormitories for male and female patients will be able to accommodate 52 patients and accompanying family members. In order to make things even easier for the patients, daily routine services (kitchen, canteen, laundry) will be provided as well. A staff of about forty will run the PRCM. The ICRC is looking for a suitable Pakistani partner to take over the running of the centre in the long term.

The ICRC is pursuing its referral programme for the physically disabled, referring people from Pakistan-administered Kashmir to Fauji Foundation Artificial Limb Centre in Rawalpindi, and those from North-West Frontier Province to the PIPOS Institute in Peshawar. Since the earthquake over 200 patients have been fitted with artificial limbs under the programme.

For further information, please contact:
  Layla Berlemont, ICRC Islamabad, tel: +92 300 850 8138
  Peter Tarabula, ICRC Muzaffarabad, tel: +92 300 852 9106
  Carla Haddad, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26