DA NANG (VNS)— Viet Nam should improve standards across the board for prosthetic and orthotics centres, said Miguel Fernandes, head of the regional office for Asia from International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Special Fund for the Disabled.
At a seminar on promoting operational standards for Prosthetics and Orthotics in Da Nang yesterday, Miguel said prosthetic and orthotic centres should be equipped with new advanced technology.
He added that the demand for prosthetic and orthotic appliances in Viet Nam was substantial due to the large numbers of war and post-war landmine victims.
Nguyen Quang Dieu, 56, a landmine victim from Duy Xuyen district in central Quang Nam Province, has benefited from funding from the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled since 1975.
Dieu, who lost his left leg in 1967 when he stepped on a mine, had a prosthetic replacement and receives free care once a year, thanks to the fund.
According to Nguyen Hai Thanh, director of the Vietnamese Training centre for Orthopaedic Technologists (VIETCOT), Viet Nam has approximately 800,000 disabled people who need prosthetic appliances, of which the poor make up a significant majority.
"A cheap prosthetic appliance costs at least VND8 million (US$380). However, hospitals in Viet Nam have been struggling with funding for the poorest patients," Thanh said.
Van Ngoc Ky, deputy director of Da Nang's Prosthetics and Orthotics Hospital, said the city provided treatment and rehabilitation to 500 patients each day.
"We have to raise money from different sources to provide free care to poor patients," Ky said.
Chu Quang Cuong, head of the Finance Department of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that the ministry had come up with a plan to help ease the cost of prosthetic and orthotics appliances for the disabled.
"Only war invalids, those who have made great contributions to the country, the poor and children are provided with prosthetic and orthotic appliances free of charge. Disabled people who do not belong to the above group must pay for prosthetic and orthotic services at rehabilitation centres out of pocket," Cuong said. "We plan to ask the Government to include prosthetic and orthotic services in the heath insurance budget."
He added that if the plan was approved, all disabled persons could benefit from the additional provisions. — VNS