Haiti: new centre for disabled rekindles hope
22-05-2012 News Release 12/109
Port-au-Prince/Geneva (ICRC) – The Special Fund for the Disabled of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) officially inaugurated a new physical rehabilitation centre in Port-au-Prince today. The facility opened its doors following a year of rebuilding and repair work on the previous structure, which was destroyed by the earthquake of 12 January 2010.
According to government figures, one of every 10 Haitians lives with a physical disability. The new centre, which will be run by Healing Hands for Haiti, a non-governmental organization, will be able to treat approximately 1,000 patients a year, for whom it will provide prosthetic and lightweight orthotic devices, walking aids and physical therapy services. In addition, the centre has a state-of-the-art workshop.
"It was urgent to reopen the centre in an earthquake-resistant structure," said François Blaise, a prosthetist-orthotist with the Special Fund for the Disabled, who is in charge of the project. "The work can now be performed in better conditions, and quality services can be provided for the many patients."
"Few other places in Haiti offer services that can meet so many needs. Disabled people need follow-up services along with good care throughout their lives," said Mr Blaise. "Access to physical rehabilitation services can enable them to recover a certain degree of independence and resume normal lives."
Over the next five years, the ICRC's Special Fund for the Disabled will maintain its support for the centre's production of artificial limbs and other devices suited to patients' needs, and for its training of staff. "This centre is currently the biggest project of the Special Fund for the Disabled," said Mr Blaise. "With over 1,300 square metres of floor space, it is bigger than the previous centre. The reconstruction work lasted over a year."
The centre was rebuilt and equipped thanks to financial support from the American Red Cross, the Australian Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross.
Healing Hands for Haiti, founded in 1999, endeavours to provide physical rehabilitation and medical services with the aim of eventually turning them over to Haitian management.
The Special Fund for the Disabled was set up by the ICRC in 1983. It supports physical rehabilitation services in more than 30 countries by providing supplies and training that enable local professionals to produce prostheses and other mobility devices using low-cost technology.
For further information, please contact:
Jean Jacob Charles, ICRC Port-au-Prince, tel: +509 34 15 98 17
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10