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Smooth wheelchair distribution system to benefit needy

COLOMBO: The Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry together with `Motivation’ and several other organisations have adopted an appropriate approach to wheelchair distribution which is beneficial to the user and will, in the long-term lead to a better quality of life.

Sri Lanka currently has over 20 wheelchair manufacturers, Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry Secretary Vijayalakshmi Jegarasasingam said.

She said research has shown that most of the donated wheelchairs are imported and donated wheelchairs last between 6-12 months as the wear and tear of these chairs are not conducive to the local environment.

The new approach will require wheelchair manufacturers to test and obtain certification of their products from the National Engineering and Research Department which is equipped with testing facilities. The quality of wheelchairs will be assessed for durability, strength and endurance.

Although the most important element in this provision process is the need to assess the condition of patients in order to prescribe the best device for them and once fitted to train these individuals’ basic usage skills and other psychological counselling.

Currently wheelchair services are set up at the Southern Centre for Disabled in Galle, Jaffna Jaipur Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled in Jaffna, the Centre for Handicapped in Digana, Kandy, the Ragama Rehabilitation Hospital in Ragama and Navajeevana in Tangalle.

For supportive seating devices are available at MENCAFEP in Baticaloa and Nuwara Eliya, Navajeevana, Ragama Hospital. Further information available with Motivation and can be contacted on 011-5378230-3, she said.

“If an organisation or an individual wishes to donate wheelchairs it is recommended that they approach one of the local wheelchair service providers or Motivation who have set up wheelchair funds for beneficiaries who cannot afford a wheelchair,” she added.

The ministry is actively involved in the drawing up of wheelchair provision standards and guidelines which will ensure that wheelchair users will be provided with the most appropriate products of the best quality.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that nearly 10 per cent of the Sri Lankan population is disabled. It is also estimated that 45,000 people require a wheelchair.

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