By Bode Olushegun
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has opened the first physical rehabilitation centre in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
The centre will be bringing physical rehabilitation services to hundreds of people living with physical disabilities in Nigeria’s conflict-stricken northeast.
According to a statement by the ICRC: “The centre, which will be run by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is projected to serve more than 2,000 people in need of prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, crutches and mobility devices by 2022.”
The statement, quoting the ICRC’s physical rehabilitation programme manager, Idah Kadyamatimba said: “We have seen through our other physical rehabilitation centres how life-changing these services are. At times people come to us crawling, and they go back walking on their feet.
“Because of this new centre, patients will no longer have to undertake a long journey to Kano or other states to receive care.”
Before the opening of the centre in Maiduguri, people living with disabilities often had to travel to another ICRC facility in Kano, a journey that can take seven hours by road.
The ICRC’s head of delegation in Nigeria, Mr Eloi Fillion said: “The centre epitomizes one of the definitions of making physical rehabilitation services accessible and as close as possible to people in need.
“We are proud to have worked with the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital to make this centre a reality.”
He disclosed that the new physical rehabilitation centre in Maiduguri would provide a wide range of services and mobility devices such as artificial limbs, wheelchairs and crutches, and offer physiotherapy and mental health psycho-social support to people with disabilities.
The statement said the Maiduguri facility would start operating with 34 staff members, eight of whom were people with disabilities who had undergone physical rehabilitation with the ICRC.
It revealed that the centre was financed through the innovative funding mechanism called “the Humanitarian Impact Bond” created to encourage social investment from the private sector to support the ICRC’s health programmes.
The statement revealed that Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the new facility via video conference on Thursday, along with Nigeria’s Health Minister, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum among other dignitaries who attended the ceremony.
The ICRC is the world’s largest provider of physical rehabilitation services in countries experiencing armed conflict and violence. In 2019, the ICRC assisted over 420,000 people with disabilities in more than 30 countries. In Nigeria, the ICRC will continue supporting the physical rehabilitation centre in Kano where 314 people with disabilities received assistance in 2019.
The ICRC has been assisting people with disabilities in Nigeria since 1979.