A new wheelchair service learning centre at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology could see thousands of people with disabilities access high-quality and affordable wheelchairs locally.
An estimated 200,000 people in Kenya urgently require appropriate wheelchairs, with only a mere 5% having access to ones that truly meet their needs, fit their environment, and are safe and durable, according to the Ministry of Health.
Speaking at JKUAT during the launch of the centre, the head of Rehabilitative Services at the Ministry of Health, Mr Alex Kisyanga, praised the initiative as a departure from the mass donations of inappropriate wheelchairs often distributed by politicians. He affirmed that the project aligns with the Assistive Technology Strategy, ensuring support for training and enhancing access to assistive technology.
According to Catherine Waiyego, an appropriate wheelchair advocate, the need for appropriate wheelchairs is often underestimated by the public.
“I experienced complications in the form of pressure sores and a curved spine due to the use of an ill-fitting wheelchair,” she recounts. She adds that an appropriate wheelchair is in aiding recovery to full mobility.
Besides facilitating the provision of suitable wheelchairs to individuals with disabilities the Centre will also be used to train physiotherapy and occupational therapy students at JKUAT.
So far, 68 people drawn Kiambu, Kajiado and Baringo counties have benefited from appropriate wheelchair donations through the centre.
Vice Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi said the new facility will be crucial in fostering the integration of wheelchair service delivery into JKUAT’s physiotherapy and occupational therapy training programmes. She added that the centre will close the existing gaps in the field of rehabilitative services
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