FHI’s Rehabilitation and Care programme aims to improve the quality of life for people in the local community who are living with disabilities. The objectives of the programme are to:
Improve the quality of life of people living with disabilities in the local community
Identify people in the community who should access rehabilitation services
Provide clinical rehabilitation services for the disabled
Improve skills of family members to help promote self management
Provide mobility aids and rehabilitation equipment where needed
Identify and refer patients to relevant services where applicable
Provide families and patients with support groups
Reduce social stigmas and enhance community understanding of disability
FHI focuses on the rehabilitation of children and youths with disabilities through corrective surgeries, different kinds of therapies and provision of various assistive devices. We work with government, health centres, clinics and hospitals to undertake corrective surgeries for children and youths with disabilities yearly which mainly include cleft-lips and club foot. At the same time we also offer life skills training to youths with disabilities for economic empowerment. In addition to this clinical care at household level, the project also encompasses an awareness campaign to tackle the social stigma and misunderstandings surrounding disabilities in the community.
FHI rehabilitation and care programme includes support for referrals, mobility aids, and equipment such as crutches, sitting/standing frames, push carts etc. Other items include wheelchairs, made-to-measure prosthetics, or specialist surgeries. The rehabilitation and care programme is supported by overseas volunteers, which benefits from the input of physiotherapists, doctors and nurses who can provide care and specialist advice.
Some of the disabilities that the project has dealt with include:
• Cerebral palsy.
• Club foot.
• Congenital malformations.
• Muscular dystrophy.
• Down’s syndrome.
• Post-traumatic injury.
• Developmental delay.
The goal in every case is to identify the person who needs support and work to improve their quality of life and the quality of life of their carer, to enable that person to live as independently and as happily as possible within their local community. The desire to lead a productive and independent life is a universal human need; however, for people living with a disability, this desire can be compromised by a physical, medical, or mental condition which can severely hamper an individual’s quality of life. This is true for people living with a disability anywhere in the world; however, in Malawi, living with a disability can be a life sentence. A lack of identification, treatment, rehabilitation, and support can mean a disability is a complete barrier to participation in local society. For example:
• People with disabilities are often ostracized.
• Many local people believe that a disability is the result of witchcraft or “black magic”.
• Many people with movement restrictions are physically unable to leave their homes.
• Children are unable to attend school because they can’t get there.
• Some patients, who have suffered an injury and would be able to make a full recovery with proper
rehabilitation, develop a permanent disability simply because they didn’t have access to any services.
Every person with a disability deserves an equal chance of living a better life! FHI’s Rehabilitation and care programme provides that — and brings hope and happiness to people who may otherwise have given up.