Restoring Mobility to Vietnamese Landmine and War Victims
Prostheses – Gifts that Transform Lives Since 1992, VNAH has provided more than 120,000 artificial limbs and wheelchairs to amputees all over Vietnam. VNAH received its first grant from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to start a fledgling prosthetics project in Can Tho Province (Mekong Delta region). For a number of years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was the major funder of VNAH’s prosthetics and wheelchair program. In the late 1990’s, USAID began shifting its support to VNAH programs designed to assist the government of Vietnam in developing policies and legislation to support people with disabilities. Our life-transforming prosthetics and wheelchair program was able to continue thanks to generous funding from the Freeman Foundation of Vermont and the Nippon Foundation of Japan. We are pleased to report that with their support this program is now in its 19th year as the largest artificial limb and wheelchair operation in Vietnam.
With the support and cooperation of MOLISA (Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs), VNAH has created a production and delivery network throughout the country in collaboration with MOLISA’s regional prosthetic and rehabilitation centers. Working with these regional centers, the program conducted several outreach projects this past year. Since roughly two-thirds of Vietnam’s disabled population is rural, VNAH’s outreach programs are carried out by-and-large in rural districts, requiring a high degree of joint collaboration with both central and local government agencies, as well as civic organizations. Currently, VNAH operates in six regional prosthetics centers in Ba Vi (near Hanoi), Vinh City (Nghe An Province), Danang, Quy Nhon, Ho Chi Minh, and Can Tho cities.
Two New Ventures In August 2009, in collaboration with the prosthetics and rehabilitation center in Quy Nhon city, VNAH provided 350 artificial limbs and 50 wheelchairs to amputees in Krong Buk, Krong Pak, and Buon Me Thuot City in Dak Lak Province.
This past September, VNAH conducted a series of outreach projects in Dong Ha City, Vinh Linh District in Quang Tri Province (DMZ), and Le Thuy District in Quang Binh Province. More than 140 amputees were reached, many of whom have been without a wheelchair or prosthetic device for years.
Both outreach projects were carried out by a team of professional technicians from Danang Rehabilitation Hospital, each outreach project following a prescribed routine. In order to determine the focus of September’s outreach, Mr. Hoang Van Cuc, Director of Danang Rehabilitation Hospital worked with Mr. Tran Dinh Van, Director of the Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs of Quang Binh Province and other local civic organizations such as the Red Cross Chapters to come up with a list of amputees who were in need of wheelchairs, prosthetics or both, but who were too poor to pay for them. This list was then submitted to VNAH. Experience has taught that cooperation and support from local community organizations are for the keys to success for our outreach projects.