More often than not, refugees are fleeing armed conflict. Sadly, many have already suffered injuries before managing to escape.
THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES AND YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING WITH AMPUTATIONS IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD.
For example, it is conservatively estimated that some 30,000 Syrians have lost limbs in the ongoing war. Unfortunately, the prosthetic limbs currently available are either too expensive or, if cheap, lacking in mobility.
With amputations more often being the result of wars and accidents in the developing world, there is a higher incidence of amputations within the younger population than in the West. Due to wear and tear, and changes in the body, prosthetics need to be replaced every five or so years, so commonly used models are financially inaccessible to many of those who need them.
Unsurprisingly, the prosthetics available in the Western world contribute towards a much higher level of mobility for the beneficiaries than those available in the developing world. The paradox is that young, fit individuals in the developing world are being unnecessarily deprived of a good quality of life. When high-activity prosthetics are available, the cost is extremely high.
IRT is aiming to change this dire situation. Partnering with an independent inventor, Ed Pennington-Ridge, IRT aims to support the development of high-activity/low-cost prosthetics, which will help refugees and people in developing countries to regain their mobility and live with dignity. While a Western-manufactured, carbon-fibre foot might cost in the region of $3,000, the intention is to provide a lower limb prosthetic, with a mobile ankle, for under $100. The combination of simplicity of design, availability of raw materials, and ability to manufacture in situ, promises transformational outcomes for the world’s poorest amputees, many of whom are refugees.
As a first step, a 6-month pilot project has already been run in Tanzania, focusing on 20 beneficiaries. Tanzania was chosen to host the initial pilot project because it boasts the Tanzania Training Centre for Orthopaedic Technologists (TATCOT). This provided an excellent base for the trial, housing a high degree of professional expertise, along with all the necessary clinical equipment.
Further details on IRT’s StepOut programme can be found in the ‘Prosthetics for Refugees’ tab, below.