“Rehabilitation needs to be fully integrated into emergency operations. If someone suffers multiple fractures in an earthquake, for example, and they do not receive immediate rehabilitation care, they will need to live with a disability,” explains Isabelle Urseau, Handicap International’s rehabilitation services manager. “Rehabilitation helps restore an individual’s physical functions, enabling them to use a limb again, to walk etc. which can be essential to their social and professional lives.”
The earthquake of 25 April in Nepal once again revealed the important role played by rehabilitation in the case-management of people with injuries. Among the thousands of people injured during the earthquake, many suffered fractures, spinal injuries, etc. Handicap International’s physical therapists and occupational therapists and their Nepalese counterparts are still performing post-operative work in hospitals to help ensure their recovery.
Rehabilitation: a development lever
Similarly, structured rehabilitation services with adequate human and financial resources help drive development and reduce the discrimination suffered by people with disabilities - a vital weapon in the fight against poverty.
“Rehabilitation services are often the poor relations in health systems. They don’t exist at all in some countries,” adds Isabelle Urseau. “If someone is unable to access rehabilitation services it can aggravate their illness or disability, delay their discharge from hospital, limit what they can do and make it more difficult for them to play a role in society.”
Handicap International: functional rehabilitation operator
Present in some sixty countries worldwide, Handicap International provided rehabilitation care to 133,000 beneficiaries in 2014, either directly or through one of its partners. Handicap International conducts rehabilitation activities in emergency and development contexts in some thirty countries. The organization recently launched one such project in Chad, where it is reviving the functional rehabilitation sector in partnership with the national authorities.