L egs, arms, teeth and eyes are some of the body parts being reproduced at a new
school aiming to make Cambodia self-sufficient in rehabilitation
The National School of Prosthetics and Orthotics opened at the
Calmette Hospital on Jan. 19. Built and designed by the Cambodia Trust (CT). It
will be managed jointly with the American Friends Services Committee
A prosthesis, also known as a prosthetic device, is a mechanism
that replaces a part of the body while an orthosis or orthotic device is one
that supports a weak part of the body or helps make it straight.
with six students, the school is aiming to make Cambodia self-reliant in
professionally qualified staff from 1998 onwards.
"The school is for
Cambodia to be independent," said Hywel Griffiths, CT's special representative.
"It's not good to depend on expatriates. Cambodia has the highest percentage
population of amputees in the world, but there are no Cambodians qualified as
CT and AFSC are funding the project initially but
Griffiths hopes in the future the Cambodian Government will have the money to do
the work by itself.
The students, who have good academic backgrounds and
experience in rehabilitation, will be educated in scientific skills equal to
recognized international standards.
Intake levels are set to rise to 12
a year and the eventual aim is to have the best graduates returning to the
school as teachers, replacing expatriate staff.
Lasting three years, the
course involves two years of school and one year working in the field alongside
a school-approved NGO prosthetist/orthotist.
"We don't need very large
numbers but (we need) good people," said Carson Harte, the school's director.
"In a few years' time when I leave, my students will replace me."
is joined by a deputy director, Anne Herikson. Both are graduates of the
prosthetic and orthotic course at Strathclyde University in Scotland.
student numbers increase it is expected staff levels will be adjusted
accordingly. Specialist subject lecturers will be bought in from Russei Keo
College and the School of Physiotherapy in Phnom Penh.
A press release
from the prosthetics school said the course represented a major change in
emphasis in the rehabilitation of disabled people in Cambodia and that its
graduates will become the basis of a National Rehabilitation Service aiming to
provide comprehensive care with recognized standards.
For the first time
NGOs will be able to plan the replacement of expatriate professional staff with
Cambodian nationals, hence withdrawing from Cambodia, said the
Together with the newly built school, the Cambodia Trust has
already set up two centers in Cambodia to provide a limb fitting service for
amputees. The first one was opened by King Sihanouk at the Calmette Hospital in
Feb. 1992 and the second opened fifteen months later in Kompong Som. So far, the
Trust has treated 3,000 people.
Most of the patients are men but
following the introduction of outreach programs earlier in 1993, the number of
women and children has been growing. The outreach programs involve sending CT
staff to rural villages in search of women and child amputees and arranging for
them to have treatment.
Similar services have also been provided by AFSC,
a veteran NGO in Cambodia which arrived in 1979 and has run a variety of
programs. The organization's operation in the country began with emergency
relief and it first became involved with amputees in 1982 when it built a
prosthetics workshop and provided technical training.