“Qualified rehabilitation professionals are in short supply in Bolivia, and there are very few training courses, particularly outside the capital,” explains Narel Gomez, Handicap International’s rehabilitation project manager.
“One of our top priorities is to boost the skills of professionals working in the sector and to help people with disabilities become more self-reliant and included in their communities.”
Since January 2014, seven rehabilitation centres have been set up in the departments of Potosí and Oruro, and more than 2,800 people have been given rehabilitation care with help from Handicap International. The organisation trains health professionals, such as doctors and physiotherapists, to use technical tools to assess the self-reliance, mobility and pain of people with disabilities. It also helps to improve their rehabilitation techniques and management skills.
“We make sure centres are accessible to all, particularly people with disabilities, by building access ramps, installing lifting devices, and fitting them with special equipment,” continues Narel.
“Rehabilitation staff also need to be trained to build trust between them and very vulnerable people. We place a particular emphasis on women and girls, who also have a right to these services. We also support mothers of disabled children to prevent them from feeling guilty and to help them accept their situation,”
Handicap International has also set up committees of people with disabilities in each rehabilitation centre where they can talk and take part in activities.
“We want people with disabilities to be actors and to raise awareness of disability. To us, the rehabilitation process has to have a social dimension. That includes providing psychological support to people with disabilities so they can express their feelings and overcome their trauma.”