The Tenkodogo orthopaedic-fitting centre in Burkina Faso has been almost completely destroyed by fire. The corrugated roofs, blackened walls and ash-covered floors bear witness to the intensity of the flames that tore through the building on the night of 6th June 2016.
Although the causes of the incident have not yet been identified, it has had a very real impact on the people who benefited from the services provided by the centre, which opened in 2013.
“Some 200 people used the Tenkodogo centre every year,” explains Raphaël Guibila, Handicap International’s rehabilitation project manager in Burkina Faso.
“Our organisation supported the centre right from the start. We donated equipment and trained the staff. It’s terrible to see it in this state, especially for people from the region who need rehabilitation care, orthoses and prostheses.”
One of those people is 9-year-old Rachidatou, who was fitted with a prosthesis by the centre’s rehabilitation services with support from Handicap International. The little girl beams as she plays with her father, Madi, under a tree near their home, on the outskirts of Tenkodogo.
“Rachidatou had a lot of health problems after my wife gave birth to her,” says Madi. “She had to have a trans-tibial amputation 20 days after she was born, otherwise she would have developed a malformation as she grows up.”
“When the centre opened in 2013, Rachidatou’s follow-up care improved. Handicap International gave her a prosthesis and since then she’s been able to walk to school with her friends.”
£165,000 needed to rebuild
Handicap International is working with the health authorities in Burkina Faso to find a solution that will enable Rachidatou and others like her to continue benefiting from the Tenkodogo orthopaedic-fitting centre’s services.
“We’re currently looking into solutions to compensate for the loss of the centre,” says Raphaël Guibila. “We’re going to continue training the orthoprosthesists, and we’re thinking about setting up mobile clinics to provide patients with follow-up care. Some people need rehabilitation care. Others are waiting for their prostheses to be adjusted or repaired.”
“It’s going to take time to rebuild and re-equip it, and for a poor country like Burkina it’s going to cost a lot of money [€190,000 or £165,000]… but with everyone’s support and hard work, we’ll be able to reopen the orthopaedic-fitting centre very soon,” says Raphaël confidently.