No more ill fitting wheel chairs for the disabled

With the financial and technical support from United State Agency for International Development (USAID), Health Volunteer Overseas (HVO), Management and Science for Health (MSH), and in collaboration with the Physiotherapy Unit, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), the Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health organized Wheelchair Service Training Package (WSTP) from 26 June to 7th July  at Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu.

Technical Training was also conducted from 19-23 June for Physiotherapists, physiotherapy technicians, bio-medical Engineering technicians and caregivers of children using wheelchairs to train them on the maintenance and repairmen of wheelchairs.

Tshering Norbu, Head of the Department (HOD), Physiotherapy Unit said, HVO, LMG Project and USAID donated 200 sets of wheelchairs consisting of pediatric as well as adult wheelchairs.

He said JDWNRH has also designated a space to establish a Wheelchair Service Workshop manned by a trained physiotherapy personnel to provide maintenance and repair services and also provide appropriate wheelchair with necessary modification as per the patient’s need.

Ms Linda Wolf, Physiotherapist, and Program Director for HVO Physiotherapy Program in Bhutan, said in Bhutan many in need do not have access to wheelchair and those who do, are frequently resigned to using extremely ill fitting chairs that are not equipped for the country’s rough landscape.

“Full time wheelchair users, who spend many hours each day in these inappropriate wheelchairs are at a high risk of developing critical health conditions including fatal bedsores and other secondary health complications,” she said.

The program focuses on addressing the need of the people who need customized support to sit upright. While developing this training package, special attention was given on the provision of appropriate wheelchairs for children who have poor postural control and are unable to sit upright independently.

Mr. Simon Gue, wheelchair designer and technical expert, conducted a special course on maintenance and repair to ensure the wheelchairs already provided to Bhutan can be maintained within the country. Additionally, trainers are assisting with the design and setup of the wheelchair workshop and training facility at JDWNRH.

A similar training was conducted last year and 30 sets of wheelchairs were donated.

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