Afghanistan: Rehabilitation centre in Kandahar helps injured and disabled people
Since 1996, Handicap International has managed a physical rehabilitation centre in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. This centre is the only one providing comprehensive services to disabled people across the whole region. We visit the centre with Rasool, the officer in charge of our activities in Kandahar province.
A physiotherapist from Kandahar Physical Rehabilitation Centre guiding the amputees during gait training process. | © Jaweed Tanveer / Handicap International
In 2015, the rehabilitation centre hosted more than 7,000 individual patients . “On average, almost twenty new patients arrive here every day”, explains Rasool, “and at least 1 out of 5 is an amputee of a lower limb.”
Inside the main room, the lower-limb amputees exercise with their prosthetic legs. Under the supervision of a physiotherapist, they are walking with these new legs, following footsteps painted on the floor of the room. The centre particularly focuses on group training, according to Rasool: “When exercising in groups, the patients support each other. They are in a better mood and it raises the efficiency of the physiotherapy sessions.”
The centre employs 54 people (including 10 women) distributed between the rehabilitation services, which provides physiotherapy sessions to the patients, and the workshop, which provides and repairs prostheses, orthoses and other mobility aids (walkers, wheelchairs, crutches).
The Kandahar centre gradually became a reference point in the region and beyond. Although 80% of the patients of the centre originate from the province of Kandahar, 20% of them come from the surrounding areas and even from nearby Pakistan.
“Hosting the patients for several days is a challenge. Many of them come from remote areas and cannot afford to stay in Kandahar for a night or two,” comments Rasool. The centre therefore has a 33-beds capacity guesthouse. Every day, the in-patients walk the 50-metre path between the guesthouse and the rehabilitation centre. Between 2010 and 2015, the attendance of the Kandahar centre increased by more than 50%.
In 2015, one patient out of 5 treated by the centre became injured or disabled due to a weapon (conventional weapon, explosive weapon, improvised explosive device, or explosive remnant of war). “Weapons are the leading cause of disabilities or injuries among our patients”, underlines Rasool. “We provide them necessary care so that they can care for themselves as soon as possible.”
IN PICTURES: KANDAHAR REHABILITATION CENTRE