Yangon / Kyaing Tong (ICRC) - The first physical rehabilitation centre in Shan State has officially opened its doors in Kyaing Tong. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) invested 1.86 billion Myanmar kyats (1.3 million US dollars) to build it.
The 34-bed centre will begin operating in May with around 30 staff members. Initially it will accept residents in the Kyaing Tong township area who need replacements and repairs on below-the-knee prostheses. Once it reaches full operational capacity, it is expected to serve up to 910 patients a year, providing prostheses, orthoses, mobility devices and physiotherapy to people across Shan State who have been wounded by landmines or other weapons, or who have had an amputation following a traffic accident or health problem. The new centre will make it much easier for them to get physical rehabilitation services.
"Before, patients from eastern areas of Shan State had to travel for more than two days by bus to Mandalay or Yangon for consultations, physiotherapy or prosthesis fittings," said Jurg Montani, head of the ICRC's delegation in Myanmar.
The ICRC drew on its wealth of experience to design and oversee the construction of the centre, which was recently handed over to the Ministry of Health and Sports. It is the third largest ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation centre in the world in terms of area, after those in Kabul, Afghanistan and Myitkyina, Kachin State.
"The centre will help alleviate suffering and build up local people's experience and capacity to provide physical rehabilitation services for disabled people," said Didier Reck, head of the ICRC's physical rehabilitation programme in Myanmar.
The physical rehabilitation programme in Myanmar began in 1986 and now fully supports three physical rehabilitation centres: one in Hpa-An jointly managed with the Myanmar Red Cross, one run by the Ministry of Health and Sports at Yenanthar Hospital near Mandalay, and the large one in Myitkyina, opened in November 2016.
Myanmar is one of the countries that has been most severely affected by landmines and other unexploded ordnance, in particular in eastern and northern parts of the country where fighting is still ongoing. These deadly weapons have a major impact, not only when people are killed by accidentally stepping on them, but also on people's lives and livelihoods.
"The opening of the centre is our medium-to-long term contribution to stability in the area. It complements the emergency relief work we have been doing, especially in northern areas of Rakhine, Kachin and Shan," said Mr Montani.
The ICRC has run physical rehabilitation programmes in conflict-affected areas around the world since 1979, supporting 165 centres in 48 countries.
Take a virtual tour of the new centre.
For further information, please contact:
Moe Myint Aung, ICRC Yangon (Myanmar language), tel: +95 9 254 205 987
Jean-Yves Clémenzo, ICRC Yangon (English language), tel: +95 9 420 107 606