YESTERDAY, I wrote to your newspaper about a claim made to me that up to 400 people in the Solomon Islands are without prosthetic limbs, mainly prosthetic legs, following surgery.
It seems as if my news merely scratched the surface for beneath that story, bad as it is, there are much bigger issues at play.
Firstly, it has been confirmed that a figure of 400 awaiting prosthetic limbs is correct and the figure is likely much higher and set to increase as a result of amputations arising from diabetic disease, foot and leg injuries.
In my time in the Solomon Islands, now nearly 20 years ago, there was a well constructed, well equipped, well staffed and efficient rehabilitation workshop at the NRH where prosthetic limbs were manufactured and fitted to patients needing them after amputations.
Today, that facility is, sadly, in a very bad state of repair and I’m told by one external charitable organisation the workshop does not have either the capability or the trained staff to manufacture artificial limbs or to fit them if donations could be made.
I somehow think ‘outsiders’ under-estimate the resourcefulness, enterprise and skill of local people and I do know that the management staff of the workshop are fully committed to their work but, clearly from my enquiries, greatly handicapped by the poor working conditions, lack of equipment and money to improve things.
I am investigating with Take My Hands (TMH) Charity Trust whether it still might be possible to acquire and send prosthetic limbs to the NRH and, while I am pretty confident, sourcing such items in New Zealand is highly likely, I am awaiting a response from the NRH to say if the hospital could cope given the workshop conditions I have described.
I can reveal that one staff member from the NRH is currently in India, having been sponsored by an Australian charity organisation, to become qualified in the manufacture and fitting of artificial limbs but will not qualify and return to the Solomon Islands before the end of 2018.
The same Australian charity is hoping to eventually have enough money donated to carry out full refurbishing of the rehabilitation workshop in the future
Dr. Hermann Oberli, a former senior surgeon at the NRH, is in touch with the NRH and with me with a view to outlaying plans for what he sees as being needed to re-built the workshop..
TMH has mentioned to me there is at least one organisation in New Zealand accommodating the needs of the limbless that arranges for its personnel to travel overseas on voluntary service. This is an avenue that might possibly be pursued depending on whether the NRH feels the working conditions in the Rehabilitation workshop would find the idea of a volunteer acceptable,given the NRH was supplied with donated prosthetic limbs.
TMH send prosthetic limbs regularly to Pakistan where they are fitted by a local Rehabilitation Centre.
I believe that procrastination is the thief of time and am inclined to get things moving to help those 400 or more people awaiting prosthetics.
How about it NRH?