New lease on life

24 September 2019 | Social Issues

Over a month after complaining at a presidential town hall meeting in Rundu about the lack of artificial limbs at the town's state hospital, 49-year-old Lukas Mpandu yaMpandu was overjoyed yesterday when he received a free limb through an Indian embassy project.

He is one of the beneficiaries of the Jaipur foot project, being run by the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) organisation, which is providing artificial limbs to over 500 Namibians free of charge in Rundu.

YaMpandu, from Sambyu village, is a former mathematics teacher at Maria Mwengere Secondary School.

He could not contain his excitement when he shared his story with Namibian Sun.

“I feel very excited to have received this artificial limb, as it will enable me to do the things I was able to do before I lost one of my legs,” he said.

His left leg was amputated in 2016.

Ever since, he has relied on crutches and a wheelchair to move around.

When he was granted an opportunity to speak on issues facing people living with disabilities during President Geingob's town hall meeting in Rundu, which was held on 9 August, YaMpandu did not shy away from informing the head of state how difficult it was for him to get an artificial limb.

He requested the health ministry to address this.

“I am very thankful for the government for having responded to our call. With these free limbs, people who live with disabilities will be considered, just like any other person in society,” he said.

YaMpandu said he will do the exercises prescribed by a specialist, and once he masters how to use the limb, he will look for a job.

“The next step is to look for a job, and hopefully this time around, I will not be discriminated against. There were jobs I could not apply for, because I was using crunches, but that will soon be a thing of the past,” he said.

The official campaign launch was graced yesterday by deputy health minister Juliet Kavetuna, who read a speech on behalf of health minister Kalumbi Shangula.

It was explained how the Indian high commission in Namibia had approached the ministry and offered orthopaedic technical services, including rehabilitation support.

This comes in the form of the fabrication and fitting of artificial limbs for 550 Namibians during a six-week camp.

In Namibia, orthopaedic technical services are only provided at the Windhoek central and Oshakati and Rundu intermediate hospitals.

With the project running for the next six weeks, Shangula called on community leaders to inform those living with disabilities to register and benefit from the initiative.

It was revealed that a Jaipur artificial limb costs about N$16 000, while limbs from western countries can cost between N$160 000 and N$250 000.

The Jaipur artificial limb weighs less than three kilograms and permits one to sit, run, squat, climb, walk and swim.

Depending on how one handles and uses the limb, it can last for about four years.

A number of people, who are living with disabilities, have benefitted from the project since its commenced last Friday.



KENYA KAMBOWE

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