Togo: visit by president of Special Fund for the Disabled
10-10-2008 News Release 08/185
Lomé (ICRC) – A delegation from the Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD) of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited Lomé from 21 to 23 September to see the work of its local partner organization, the Centre national d'appareillage orthopédique (national prosthetic/orthotic centre, CNAO).
“The CNAO has obtained encouraging results under its partnership with the SFD, and it is our duty to continue motivating donors, so that they enable this work to continue,” said SFD president Professor Claude Le Coultre. She was accompanied by SFD director Theo Verhoeff and by Max Deneu, head of the Fund’s Africa office in Addis Ababa.
Togolese health minister Komlan Mally was impressed by the quality of the assistance the SFD was giving to handicapped people via national bodies. Addressing the SFD delegation on 23 September, the minister declared “You have my full support, and the door of my ministry is open to you at all times.”
The previous day, the delegation had visited two of the CNAO’s younger patients, Joseph Fiokuna and Florence Bossou. The Fund’s president wanted to see for herself the impact of the CNAO on the lives of physically handicapped people.
“I didn’t think I’d ever play football with my friends again,” said Joseph, 10. “Thanks to the leg they gave me at the hospital I can get around, I can play ball with my friends and I can walk to school.” Joseph received his new leg from the CNAO, and walking to school is no mean feat, as his school is a kilometre away.
Nine-year-old Florence is sitting on the steps of the family home. The CNAO has provided her with two artificial legs made of polypropylene. At the age of three, she lost both feet and all her fingers to Buruli, a tropical ulcerous disease similar to leprosy. For the last four years, Florence has been undergoing rehabilitation sessions. A month ago, she took her first hesitant but determined steps without a stick, steps that will ultimately lead her to independence.
“I am really happy to see that the objectives of the SFD are being achieved through partner organizations like the CNAO,” said Prof. Le Coultre. “I wanted to come and see for myself the work being done in the field.”
As part of its support for physical rehabilitation centres in low-income countries, the SFD has supplied prostheses and orthotic devices worth USD 250,000 for the CNAO and for Togo’s national school for medical auxiliaries since 2004. The Fund also runs an annual one-month in-service training course for CNAO technicians at its regional training centre in Addis Ababa and arranges for its prosthetic/orthotic specialists and physiotherapists to hold technical seminars in Togo. This support has enabled 1,325 people to receive artificial limbs and 4,287 to receive orthotic devices.
The SFD is an autonomous ICRC foundation that provides long-term treatment and follow up for handicapped people, with the ultimate aim of enabling them to resume an active role in society. The Fund was set up in 1983 in line with a resolution passed at the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1981. Professor Claude Le Coultre, the current president of the Fund, is also the former dean of the Geneva medical faculty and a member of the ICRC Assembly, the organization’s governing body.
For further information, please contact:
Theo Verhoeff, SFD Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 23 57/2401
Max Deneu, SFD Addis Ababa, tel. +251 11 27 56 240/ 77 953