Haiti: humedica sets up prosthetics and orthotics centre – “We want to help disabled persons”

by Sven Ramones,  2010/12/20

The numerous destroyed buildings are not the only reminders of the devastating earthquake that took place in Haiti at the beginning of the year. Thousands of victims will spend the rest of their lives with a disability, since they had been amputated an arm or a leg. Others still need support when it comes to rehabilitation of severe injuries even months after the quake.

According to estimates, up to 9,500 persons in Haiti are living with amputations. Between 1,500 and 2,000 Haitians have lost limbs due to severe injuries they sustained during the earthquake.

Head of the prosthetics and orthotics project run by humedica in Port-au-Prince: orthotic technician Wendell Endley (right) with humedica CEO Wolfgang Groß. Photo: humedica

In order to offer help to many of those persons, humedica has started to set up a prosthetics and orthotics centre at the “Hopital Espoir” in the capital Port-au-Prince. Work is being overseen by the project coordinator in charge, Wendell Endley from South Africa, who has already been on a mission in Haiti at the beginning of this year.

Further 7,000 people need orthopaedic aids, so-called orthotics, for means of rehabilitation. Bone fractures, spinal cord injuries and other injuries sustained during the earthquake can be fixated and treated with the help of orthotics.

Massive poverty in the country and a drastic lack of trained prosthetic and orthotic technicians aggravate the living conditions of those people in Haiti who have to live with physical disabilities.

Furthermore, it is hard for most of the patients with amputations to come to terms with their new living situation. Many of them suffer from the culturally-influenced attitude in Haiti to consider a disability to be a social stigma.

Aids for physically disabled persons are scarce in Haiti. To a large extend those establishments in the country that had disposed the means to manufacture prosthetics and orthotics were destroyed by the earthquake. Therefore the demand for prosthetics and orthotics is immense.

Since apart from the victims of the earthquake there are many other persons in the country depending in particular on orthotics, this is going to be the focus of the work at the new humedica-run prosthetics and orthotics centre. Supply with orthotics is currently not sufficient for the many victims of accidents or patients with innate disabilities in Haiti.

Thousands of the earthquake victims will spend the rest of their lives with a disability. humedica offers them help and support. Photo: Thomas Grabka (grabka-fotografie.de)

Furthermore we are planning to use the humedica prosthetics and orthotics centre in Port-au-Prince for training local staff as qualified orthotic technicians. They are to carry on the work after the humanitarian mission of humedica in Haiti. By doing so, patients are to be guaranteed steady supply with prosthetics and orthotics on a long-term.

Besides manufacturing, fixing and fitting prosthetics and orthotics, and the training of technical staff, humedica is also planning to set up mobile workshops. These mobile workshops are to enable us to expand the treatment of patients also to remote areas. At the same time we intend to increase the population’s awareness and sensibility regarding the topic of disabilities in the framework of an educational programme.

Another objective of humedica is to compile a rehabilitation team consisting of therapists from different medical fields who will be in charge of follow-up treatments for the patients. Furthermore, doctors and therapists will be prepared for the special needs of disabled persons by means of additional seminars, and they will be trained regarding the technical possibilities of rehabilitation.

All those efforts undertaken by humedica are intended to help disabled persons to deal with their state of health in general and to give them the opportunity of becoming self-reliant once more and by doing so taking part in social life and increasing their self-confidence. In the long run, this means a substantial improvement of the patients’ quality of life.

Headed by Wendell Endley, also two of his colleagues, Danny Pelaez (Venezuela) and Maria Reyes (El Salvador) take part in the humedica mission and help us to set up the prosthetics and orthotics centre in Port-au-Prince. They, too, want to ensure that our objectives will be achieved and that disabled people in Haiti will be able to find a new sense of purpose for their lives.

Hope and a better life for many disabled people thanks to the help of humedica. Photo: Thomas Grabka (grabka-fotografie.de)

Before his mission in Port-au-Prince, the professional orthotic technician Endley already worked in Kosovo and Vietnam. In the framework of a similar project running shortly after the earthquake at the beginning of the year, he has already set up a complete new rehabilitation centre from the ruins and rubble of destruction.

Now he intends to set up the planned prosthetics and orthotics centre for humedica at the “Hopital Espoir”. “We want to meet the needs of disabled persons. We will not make any distinction between patients who are victims of the earthquake or patients who had already had physical disabilities before the disaster in Haiti”, explains Wendell Endley.

Shortly before his departure to Port-au-Prince, we asked Wendell about his personal expectations regarding the project: “I hope that we will fulfil our mission and reach the objectives we have set ourselves. On behalf of humedica I hope to leave something that will endure. Something that is useful, sustainable and helpful for the Haitian people.

Dear friends and sponsors of humedica, for many disabled persons in Haiti artificial arms or legs mean a better life. Orthotics are intended to help the patients recover from their often severe injuries and to live on without any remaining physical restrictions. Please support our prosthetics and orthotics project in Haiti by means of a donation to the account below:

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Earthquake Haiti"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can support us in a secure, fast and simple way by means of sending a text message: send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. By doing so you will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica relief projects. You are also welcome to make a donation via our online form.

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