Shan State’s first physical rehabilitation center has officially opened its doors in Kyaing Tong. The facility was built with a US$1.3 million investment from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
When it begins operating in May, the 34-bed center and its 30 staff members will initially serve local residents who need replacements and repairs on below-the-knee prosthetics.
Once it reaches full operational capacity, it is expected to serve up to 910 patients a year, providing prostheses, orthoses, mobility devices and physiotherapy to people across Shan State who have been wounded by landmines or other weapons, or who have had an amputation following traffic accidents or health problems.
“Before, patients from eastern areas of Shan State had to travel for more than two days by bus to Mandalay or Yangon for consultations, physiotherapy or prosthesis fittings,” said Jurg Montani, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Myanmar.
After designing and overseeing the construction of the center, the ICRC handed it over to the Ministry of Health and Sports. It is the third-largest ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation center in the world by area, after those in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Myitkyina, Kachin State.
“The center will help alleviate suffering and build up local people’s experience and capacity to provide physical rehabilitation services for disabled people,” said Didier Reck, head of the ICRC’s physical rehabilitation program in Myanmar.
The physical rehabilitation program in Myanmar began in 1986 and now fully supports three physical rehabilitation centres: one in Hpa-An that is jointly managed with the Myanmar Red Cross; one run by the Ministry of Health and Sports at Yenanthar Hospital near Mandalay; and the one in Myitkyina, opened in November 2016.
Myanmar is one of the countries most severely affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance, in particular in eastern and northern parts of the country, where fighting is ongoing.
“The opening of the centre is our medium-to-long term contribution to stability in the area. It complements the emergency relief work we have been doing, especially in northern areas of Rakhine, Kachin and Shan,” said Mr Montani.
The ICRC has run physical rehabilitation programs in conflict-affected areas around the world since 1979, supporting 165 centers in 48 countries.
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