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“We were impressed by the work achieved by the local Haiti Hospital Appeal team and by the comprehensive approach and commitment to the rehabilitation of spinal injured people”
Dr Beat Villiger, MD, CEO and Dr Michael Baumberger, MD and Chief Medic Swiss Paraplegic Centre.
In Haiti 10% of the population have a disability. However, according to the World Health Organisation only 2% of people with disabilities in the developing world receive appropriate medical and rehabilitation support. Haiti is no different. After the Earthquake in January 2010, HHA opened Haiti’s first Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre, caring for people with complete or partial paralysis. Despite predictions that at least 50% of our 25 patients would likely die due to the severity of their injury, 24 were successfully rehabilitated, returning to the community. This kind of rehabilitation had never been done before in Haiti, and highlighted a long term need.
Thanks to the United Nations, The Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, Healing Hands for Haiti Team Canada, and Konbit Sante, we opened a permanent Rehabilitation Centre in November 2011. The unit has a ward for 20 patients specialising in spinal cord injuries, severe strokes or paediatric disabilities.
We also have a physiotherapy suite and occupational/vocational training room where inpatients can access a series of services including IT lessons, numeracy and literacy classes, jewelry lessons and more! We also provide care to outpatients with a varied range of disabilities each week.
Lives have already been saved through this urgent work, which has been life transforming. People who arrived unable to walk or care for their basic needs have left walking, with great confidence and the ability to look after themselves, with some graduating from university, others starting families, finding full time employment, or even competing at the London 2012 Paralympics!