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Nepal: improving access to physical rehabilitation services

31-01-2011 News Release 11/23

Kathmandu (ICRC) – In Nepal, landmines and other unexploded munitions from the last armed conflict continue to cause severe injuries such as the loss of an arm or leg.

To enable the victims to resume living normal lives with independence and dignity, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provides support for physical rehabilitation centres in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

The ICRC today renewed for the third time a memorandum of understanding first signed in 2009 with the Nepal Army promising continued support for physical rehabilitation services for people with mobility impairments. "Owing to the limited number of rehabilitation centres in Nepal, accessibility remains a major concern for people who have lost limbs," said Brigadier General Dr K.C. Bachu, head of the rehabilitation centre run by the Nepal Army in Kathmandu. "The army-run rehabilitation centre opened in 2009 as the first Nepali government facility of its kind that caters to military personnel and civilians alike. Our doors are open to all."

Using an artificial limb requires repeated visits to rehabilitation centres. "With time, a person’s height and weight change, so artificial limbs have to be modified accordingly. At some point, the limbs will need repair or replacement," explained Jagadish Shrestha, head of the ICRC health department in Nepal. The ICRC bears the cost of services, including regular maintenance and repair, for people whose disability is connected with armed conflict or other violence. Other people must pay according to their means.

In 2010, over 1,600 people benefited from ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation services. Currently, the organization is working closely with two facilities, the Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara and the rehabilitation centre run by the Nepal Army in Kathmandu. The ICRC provides financial support and training, within the country and abroad, for local technicians. In addition, it provides them with modern equipment so that they will be able to offer their services independently in the future.

The ICRC also supports programmes of the Nepal Red Cross Society aimed at raising awareness among civilians of the dangers of landmines and other explosive devices.

For further information, please contact:
Monica Upadhyay, ICRC Kathmandu, tel: +977 1 4107285 or +977 97510 07585