Many people with mobility impairments particularly those living in developing countries such as Ethiopia suffer from lack of wheelchairs. Even those who have accessed wheelchairs aren’t appropriately fitted. WHO, for instance estimated that only 5% of persons with mobility impairments in developing countries have access to appropriate wheelchairs. This has hindered users from benefiting the most out of the product and caused an early wear and damage to their wheelchairs.
Among the major problems faced by persons with physical disabilities in accessing appropriate wheelchairs in Ethiopia are:
- Lack of or limited availability of wheelchairs,
- Lack of access to appropriate wheelchair fitting services,
- Lack of access to wheelchair repair and maintenance services,
- Lack of coordination of wheelchair service providers in the country.
In order to address the above challenges, CSE and IOCC have taken promising initiatives to implement two successive wheelchair projects with funds obtained from USAID i.e. IWAE (from 2012 till 2015) and WASE (from 2016 till present).
Among the achievements of the first project (IWAE) were the following:
- Established a local wheelchair production and assembly unit in Menagesha rehabilitation center,
- Trained 67 and 35 rehabilitation practitioners drawn from the various prosthesis and orthoses centers in Ethiopia on Basic and Intermediate wheelchair service provision respectively,
- Provided fitting wheelchair services for more than 2900 users as per WHO standard guideline,
- Developed and distributed wheelchair users’ manual
- Established a group of major wheelchair service providers in Ethiopia.
- Among the achievements of the second project (WASE) are the following:
- Provided appropriate fitting wheelchair services to more than 490 users,
- Trained 22 and 16 rehabilitation practitioners on Basic and Intermediate wheelchair service provision respectively,
- Trained 24 technicians on the provision of basic wheelchair repair and maintenance service,
- Developed and distributed basic wheelchair repair and maintenance manual,
- Provided follow up, repair and maintenance service for more than 400 wheelchair users,
- Re vitalized the efforts of wheelchair stakeholders established in the previous IWAE project,
- Established information sharing platform to enable experience and resource sharing among major wheelchair service stakeholders in Ethiopia and link them with vital global wheelchair movements,
- Established a wheelchair service delivery unit in Gondar University.