The laboratory built at the University of Rwanda (UR), Remera Campus is the first ever with such facilities established in Rwanda and the second in the East African Community (EAC).
The laboratory built at a cost of over Rwf 400 million has capacity to conduct examinations to identify the person’s nature of disability, needed prosthesis and orthosis to be produced within a short period of time.
The laboratory comes in handy to address challenges facing persons with disabilities who would not engage in sporting activities due to lack of proper prosthesis.
Emmanuel Ndayisaba, the Executive Secretary of National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) explained that the laboratory will address some of the challenges facing persons living with disabilities.
“It is a great infrastructure giving relief to persons with disabilities as they will get prosthesis easily. As you know, we have launched a program to promote sports among these persons but we had no equipment to engage in sports especially athletics. We didn’t have appropriate prosthesis for physical exercises. The laboratory is to bridge the gap and will be helpful to those who could not participate in competitions,” he said.
Jeanne Kagwiza, the Acting Principal of College of Medicine and Health Science at UR explained that the laboratory will sharpen students’ skills given that the university already had a prosthetics and orthotics department where 53 have graduated at the school and employed in various institutions.
“We already have students enrolled in courses equipping them with skills in prosthetics and orthotics department which had no own laboratory. The facility will acquaint students with practical skills and advanced knowledge,” she said.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Valentine Uwamariya also highlighted that having the workshop in Rwanda, is a guarantee that the University of Rwanda will produce skilled Prosthetic and Orthotic technologists required at regional and international market.
“I am happy that this workshop is expected to be a solution to not only students as a practical site, but also to the Rwandan community in regards to rehabilitation services. I highly appreciate the support of National and international partners of the University of Rwanda especially ICRC and welcome other projects in the pipeline that will further confirm existing strong ties between the Government of Rwanda and development patterns in education,” she noted.
Rwanda has over 446,000 people with disabilities across the country. There are over 51,000 people with disabilities out of registered 154,000 disabled people who need prostheses.
The University of Rwanda is developing a Bachelors program in Prosthetics and Orthotics for professionals at Bachelors, Masters, and PhD levels to curb the need for the country to provide quality service and training programs.
As of 2019, 53 orthopedic technologists (Associate Prosthetist & Orthotist) have graduated from the University of Rwanda. They are working in different settings namely Hospitals (44), Private Rehabilitation (2), NGOs (3), and Prosthetics and Orthotics Centres as well as education (4).
Subhash Sihna, Regional Physical Rehabilitation Manager for East Africa at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) explained that the support for the construction of the facility was meant to help persons with disabilities enjoy life like other members of the community by providing easy access to prosthesis.
A prosthesis at the newly inaugurated laboratory ranges between Rwf300,000 and Rwf3 million depending on needed equipment.
Ndayisaba revealed that they are conducting advocacy for Mutuelle de Santé to cater for prosthesis.
ICRC has also committed to build two more prosthetics and orthotics laboratories in Rwanda next year.