Category Archives: Adult

Heather Pearson

By Heather Pearson

Oct 8th 2015

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World Mental Health Day 2015: Addressing mental health in the poorest communities of the world

Categories: Adult, Advocacy, CBM, Development, Disability, Mental health, People with disabilities, Uncategorized

October 10th is World Mental Health Day. This year we address a key issue facing people living with psychosocial disabilities (disabilities caused by mental illness): dignity.

The theme chosen for October 10, 2015 is “Dignity in mental health”. The word ‘dignity’ comes from the Latin word meaning worthiness.  It is the idea that everyone has the right to be valued and respected. But taking it one step further, dignity is also about how people feel: treating someone in a way that they feel valued and feel respected. When people are living with dignity, they feel confident and they are able to make decisions for themselves.

Worldwide, high levels of stigma and discrimination strip people with psychosocial disabilities of dignity and prevent them from the experience of living as, and being treated as, equal members of society.

Imelda (17yrs) has schizophrenia. Imelda's parents kept her and her brother locked away.

At CBM, we believe that all people with disabilities deserve to live in a world that treats them with dignity. Here are 3 ways that we believe can promote the dignity of people with psychosocial disabilities:

1) Creating accessible, people-centred care following a humanitarian emergency

Knowing that disasters can negatively influence the mental health of a population, CBM sees humanitarian emergencies as an opportunity to ‘build back better.’ In Sierra Leone, for example, the Ebola virus disease outbreak impacted the mental health of the country in many ways. Not one person was excluded from the experience of stress, fear and loss. CBM used this opportunity to mobilize resources and establish, with other partners, 14 mental health units across the country. Previous to the outbreak, mental health care was only available at the Psychiatric Hospital and in a couple of health units outside of the capital city. Similarly, in the Philippines, following Typhoon Haiyan, CBM used the opportunity to establish mental health units with trained staff who could visit and support people with psychosocial disabilities in their communities.

Creating accessible mental health care following an emergency seeks to reduce the long term psychological impacts of a disaster. However, it also brings care closer to people with psychosocial disabilities, allowing them to rebuild their lives with dignity: close to their homes and families with trained staff who treat them with respect.

2) Supporting opportunities for voices to be heard

A CBM-supported Block Printing Unit in Pozhiyoor, Kerala where 13 members (mental health patients and their carers) produce printed cloths for sale.

A CBM-supported Block Printing Unit in Pozhiyoor, Kerala where 13 members (mental health patients and their carers) produce printed cloths for sale.

An important part of dignity is providing people with the opportunity to make choices and to have control in their lives. It is not enough to speak on behalf of people with psychosocial disabilities. Instead, what is needed is environments that offer support and build confidence, so that people with psychosocial disabilities can find and use their voices.

Maya Angelou put it best when she defined dignity: “Dignity. It means a belief in oneself, that one is worthy of the best. It means that what I have to say is important, and I will say it when it’s important for me to say it. Dignity really means that I deserve the best treatment I can receive. And that I have the responsibility to give the best treatment I can to other people.”

Since 2008, CBM has supported the Presbyterian Community Based Rehabilitation (PCBR) programme based in Northern Ghana, to establish self-help groups (SHGs) with the aim of providing mutual support, and enabling people to re-enter the community, both socially and economically. Now, with over 23 SHGs throughout the upper east region, the groups provide an important source of support to people with psychosocial disabilities and their families. Through the groups, members have been able to challenge discrimination, share support and advice, and attain financial security in a resource poor setting.

3) Advocating for change in global priorities

While local developments, such as the establishment of services and self-help groups, are necessary to promote dignity, progress on a global level is equally important.

In September, 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched. The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and clearly state the priorities for governments and development agencies over the next 15 years. During the drafting process, FundaMentalSDG was formed: an alliance of organizations who believe in a common vision of seeing the SDGs consider the needs of people with psychosocial disabilities.

When the UN adopted the SDGs in September this year, we saw the exciting inclusion of mental health and well-being in the document. This success is in part due to the work of FundaMentalSDG, of which CBM is a founding member.

Mental health was not mentioned in the MDGs. Therefore, the inclusion of mental health and well-being in the SDGs indicates an increased respect for people with psychosocial disabilities on a global level. Equally important, we anticipate a greater investment in interventions that will lead to less human rights abuses against people with psychosocial disabilities.

On World Mental Health Day 2015, we are promoting the value and worth of people living with psychosocial disabilities. Whether we invest in improving access to care, the establishment of self-help groups or changing global priorities …it should all be done in the name of dignity.

“Things have a price and can be for sale but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things.”  – Pope Francis

CBM UK

By CBM UK

Sep 11th 2015

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Trachoma outreach camps targeting Uganda’s poorest communities

Categories: Adult

By Andrea Brandt von Lindau, CBM UK’s Trachoma and Eye Health Programme Officer.

Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. 6 million people have lost their sight to Trachoma.  If it is not effectively treated, the eye infection causes constant pain and will eventually lead to blindness. CBM is working with partners in the wider context of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative which supports efforts to eliminate Trachoma in eleven Commonwealth countries.

CBM is active in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi, where we conduct TT (Trachoma Trichiasis) surgery. This is one of the four elements of the SAFE Strategy (Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial Cleanliness, Environmental Improvements) which has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation as an effective and comprehensive way to eliminate Trachoma. TT Surgery addresses the advanced, blinding stages of the disease, saving people from further visual loss and from going completely blind.

TT surgery is often conducted at outreach camps in districts which have a high Trachoma prevalence. This allows us to reach remote, and often very poor, populations – people who would not otherwise have the money to travel to a hospital or even to their local health clinic or to pay for treatment or medication. CBM has been running Trachoma outreach camps in Uganda since October last year. I recently had the opportunity to visit a CBM Trachoma outreach camp in Uganda.

Joyce, who has Trachoma and her daughter sat outside the eye care health centre in Simaya.

Joyce and her daughter sat outside the eye care health centre in Simaya.

The camp lasted for one week and clearly involved a great deal of planning and preparation. Staff from CBM’s local partner organisation, the Benedictine Eye Hospital, based in Tororo, spent each day in a different local health centre in the target sub-district, where they set up an operating theatre for the day. TT surgeons from the local district, who were trained by our programme, operated all of the Trachoma patients who attended the camp each day. Patients returned the following day to have their bandages removed and to be given eye drops with instructions of how to look after their eyes. Surgery patients were also given antibiotics to prevent reoccurrence of the infection.

One major logistical challenge during these outreach camps is patient mobilisation, not only in terms of finding patients and encouraging them to seek help, but also transporting them to the outreach site and back home. CBM uses radio adverts and the ‘town crier’, a car with loudspeakers which drives around the villages and makes public announcements to make people aware of an upcoming Trachoma camp. In addition, CBM has started using so-called ‘case finders’, a method which has proved extremely successful. In Uganda, case finders are usually members of existing Village Health Teams, who are trained to inform people about different health issues and possibilities for treatment and/or prevention.

CBM’s Trachoma programme has trained a number of case finders to make an initial Trachoma diagnosis and counsel people to encourage them to seek treatment. The latter can be extremely challenging because people are often suspicious or fearful of undergoing surgery. However, now that the Trachoma outreach programme has been running successfully for some time, people hear more and more success stories from former patients. As a result, more new patients are now coming forward for surgery. All patients will also receive counselling at the camp itself where they are being told about what the surgery entails and where they can ask questions. Some people will still refuse surgery at the camp, but this is usually a small minority. CBM also provides transport for patients who live too far from the health centre to walk there and who can’t afford transport, which again increases patient numbers.

The outreach camps also see a large number of patients who do not have Trachoma but all kinds of other eye problems. Some issues, e.g. allergies, can be treated with eye drops; however, many other patients require further treatment such as Cataract surgery. This has created a significant need to complement the trachoma camps with Cataract surgery camps. Currently, Cataract patients’ details are recorded so they can be notified the next time a Cataract camp is held. In future, Trachoma and Cataract camps could be organised concurrently, meaning that Cataract patients would no longer have to wait for treatment. In any case, the treatment of other eye diseases is of course extremely important, not only to help as many people as possible, but also to maintain people’s trust in the programme and ensure that patients keep attending. The saddest thing to see is when patients attend the camp who have already suffered irreversible sight loss through diseases like Glaucoma and who have to be told that they cannot be helped. These patients are also referred to the counsellor who will explain the difference between their problem and those of other patients who can be helped.

Something else that struck me is how many people had other disabilities, in addition to Trachoma. This could be other eye issues like Cataract or physical disabilities. One elderly man whose bandages were removed following his Trachoma surgery told us he still couldn’t see anything, due to Cataract. He will now be added to the list of patients who will be alerted the next time CBM will hold a Cataract outreach camp in the area which could be several months later. Benyamen, an Ophthalmic Assistant who screened patients at the camp, talked about meeting a number of elderly women from some remote villages at a recent Cataract camp, who, in addition to having Cataracts, were unable to walk, and had never accessed health services before.

At the Trachoma camp, we met Joyce who is unable to walk and therefore very reliant on her daughter in her every-day life. Her daughter had found out about the camp from a local case finder and the camp vehicle picked Joyce up from her home. It is good to know that she has now received the surgery which will save her from going blind, as this would have made her mobility issues even worse; however, as a disability organisation, I feel that CBM should be providing support for her physical disability too, and was glad to hear that our project team is currently sourcing a wheelchair for Joyce.

CBM will continue to conduct TT surgery in Uganda. This work is complemented by the distribution of antibiotics which prevent the infection and other organisations working to improve water and hygiene standards. The ultimate aim is to eliminate Trachoma in Uganda.

Watch Joyce’s story here:

Kirsty Smith

By Kirsty Smith

Jul 31st 2015

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We need to build back a better Nepal with disabled people

Categories: Adult, CBM, Disaster, Inclusive, Nepal, People with disabilities, Poverty
Kirsty Smith, Chief Exectuve of CBM UK in Nepal

Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive of CBM UK in Nepal

Nepal is not Haiti. The scale of the earthquake is of course very different. Around 8,800 people were killed in the first quake of 25 April, and a further hundred in the second quake in May. In Haiti the numbers reached 200,000 including many senior civil servants which effectively meant that large parts of the government became dysfunctional or non-existent. This is not at all the case in Nepal where the government is clearly structured and very active in the earthquake response, working alongside agencies such as CBM to distribute emergency relief as well as post-emergency non-food items such as tarpaulins, sanitary kits and corrugated iron sheeting. However, people with disabilities are disproportionately affected at times of crisis and my time spent in Nepal demonstrates clearly how the often sporadic and uneven response often fails to reach those who need it most.

I am wandering through the rubble strewn streets of Bhaktapur with social worker Pramita. We pass a line of people waiting for government relief who have been standing in the sun for several hours. At the front of the queue, the crowd at the kiosk window is 3 people thick and I try to imagine how someone with reduced mobility or a wheelchair user would be able to get to the front.  “What happens if someone can’t come to collect relief supplies themselves?” I ask, thinking of others in more remote rural areas who may live several hours walk from anywhere accessible by road. “They ask a relative or neighbour to come for them, “ Pramita replies. “What happens if the relative or neighbour was killed or injured themselves, or is unable to spare so much time?” I ask. She sighs. “Then they might miss out,” she admits.

I learn more about the reality of this when I visit CBM partner, the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN), an umbrella organisation representing a network of disability-specific bodies. The National President, Shudarson Subedi, describes story after story from these member organisations describing people with disabilities who were often just not aware of relief opportunities available, or unable to reach the distribution points which were many hours down steep hillsides.

NFDN has responded to this in a range of ways, including a project to introduce radio and SMS alerts to ensure those with hearing or sight impairment are aware of all rehabilitation opportunities. However, their most powerful approach has been in finding a stronger voice in the country’s rehabilitation efforts, working closely with the government to ensure that the “building back better” efforts are inclusive not only of people with disabilities but are inclusive of all those with specific and needs. In addition, they are helping to increase the extent to which people with disabilities are active participants in the decision making about reconstruction of health, education and livelihood systems and structures.

Patients evacuated from CBM partner Hospital and rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children (HRDC) on 12 May.

Patients evacuated from CBM partner Hospital and rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children (HRDC) on 12 May.

The next day I visit new CBM partner, the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Kavre, which normally caters to around 40 patients with spinal cord injuries but is currently housing 110. To cope with this dramatic increase in numbers, CBM is supporting the hospital with emergency wheelchairs and anti-pressure sore cushions for earthquake affected patients. SIRC Director, Esha Thapa, explains that they might normally expect a patient to spend 3-6 months with them undergoing surgery and then extensive therapy and rehabilitation. However, with only 10 occupational therapists in the whole country, the rehabilitation phase is likely to take longer for so many new patients. SIRC would also expect to carry out around 50 home modifications in a year, but 90% of the patients who have been admitted with earthquake injuries have lost their homes.

We visit the stepdown facilities – huge tents erected in the hospital grounds – which allow those who have received surgery and rehabilitation at the hospital but who are not quite ready to leave the hospital. They can spend two weeks staying in the tents, being observed as they learn new ways of coping with daily tasks. The burden of this sudden physical trauma and the aftercare is a heavy burden not only on the injured person but also on their family or friends who stay with them at the hospital as primary carer. Esha describes one patient brought in by her neighbour who was forced to discharge herself far too early because the neighbour’s husband wanted her at home.  Another left hospital before receiving any of her physical therapy treatment plan because she was frightened of missing out on the relief materials being distributed in her village.

But some are there for the longer term. One young boy was carried by his neighbours from the ruins of his collapsed house in which his parents were killed. But with no family and no home to return him to, they were unwilling to take him back once his treatment had been completed. Another man, having seen the photographs of his own destroyed house and the devastation of most of his village, had no desire at all to go home.

CBM has been working with local partners in Nepal for 30 years and the CBM country office and emergency response unit were able to respond within hours of the earthquake starting. CBM will be there not just for the weeks and months that follow the earthquake but, continuing to work through local partners and influence the government, for the years that will be needed to ensure that the post-emergency response and the rebuilding of the country’s structures and systems are inclusive.

More about CBM’s emergency response in Nepal

News: Nepal will rise again…but it will take decades

Julian Eaton

By Julian Eaton

Apr 7th 2015

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One year on since the Ebola crisis

Categories: Adult, Development, Disability, Disability Inclusion, DRR, Ebola, Economy, Emergency Appeal, One year On, Sierra Leone

It has now over a year since the Ebola outbreak started in Guinea. CBM supported partners in Guinea and Sierra Leone – 2 of the 3 most affected countries – were forced to scale down their routine activities like community eye care, cataract operations, and community mental health care. The loss of local staff either from Ebola or due to difficulties in travel, and the reduction in clients coming for services has led to a risk of insolvency of institutions, among other negative effects. By extension, tens of thousands of people who depended on them for health, and other social services are no longer getting the services they require resulting in greater disability and deeper poverty.

CBM is working with a grass-roots organisation in Sierra Leone to reduce the vulnerability of people with disabilities and their families to Ebola through awareness raising strategies.

Dr Julian Eaton, Psychiatrist and CBM Mental Health Advisor for West Africa, tells us more about the mental health programme and its role in responding to psychosocial needs of the population in Sierra Leone.

Our activities in Sierra Leone since the Ebola outbreak started

When the Ebola crisis began in March 2014, our programmes in Sierra Leone were affected. Due to the rapid spread of this disease, there were significant travel bans imposed, bans on public gatherings, closure of schools, reduction in the use of hospitals by people etc. Routine cataracts and surgeries came to a standstill and routine programmes started collapsing.

We needed to continue supporting our existing partners as there was no income flowing in due to lack of day-to-day expenses of operations and surgeries etc. Business services started collapsing due to the lack of finances and there was a massive gap between what was existing and what was needed by the people.

CBM’s first response to the outbreak was to redirect our efforts as much as we could, within the framework of our programme, to support the mental health and psychosocial response to the outbreak.

CBM projects in Sierra Leone

The ‘Enabling Access to Mental Health’ Programme (EAMH) supported by CBM has been active for the past four years in Sierra Leone. Addressing the consequences of mental health is an important part of standard Ebola response. Today, this programme focuses more on the specific mental needs of people affected by this disease. It provides mental health facilities to families of Ebola victims, children who are now orphans, health workers who are under a huge amount of stress and survivors who are marginalised by their families and communities.

The programme has dedicated three blocks to:

  • Block 1, Capacity Building: support the 21 mental health nurses trained by the EAMH programme in the districts, so they can provide services for those who are suffering the consequences of the outbreak. Other efforts, like the provision of trainers and specialists to prepare teams of other organisations (such as child protection) are also being made.
  • Block 2, Advocacy: The EAMH has also established the Mental Health Coalition that brings together stakeholders to advocate for the inclusion of mental health in the government’s agenda. The Mental Health Coalition has been engaging from the beginning of the outbreak with the response pillars of both, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Welfare, to ensure that the mental health component of the outbreak is not neglected and that local actors are taken into consideration. The Coalition, being one of the main actors in this area, works in close collaboration with WHO, UNICEF, and the other NGOs.
  • Block 3, Awareness: Radio programmes and support to the other blocks are being provided, to raise awareness about the psychosocial consequences of the outbreak, and to fight stigma and discrimination.

To address the massive increase in needs CBM has also added more resources to scale up support for psychosocial disability. We have collaborated closely with the WHO to write a standard manual for psychosocial first aid (both in English and in French). This manual is currently being used by national governments, WHO and other international and local NGOs in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Togo and Liberia.

In Sierra Leone the Mental Health programme has been the strongest programme supporting services outside psychiatric hospitals. It has deployed nurses who are the main referral for people doing counselling.

Building Resilience for persons with disabilities during the Ebola Crisis

Another project has begun to ensure the resilience of people with disabilities to the outbreak. CBM has liaised with our local partners in Sierra Leone to adapt all official messages from the WHO, UNICEF and the government, to ensure they are accessible for people with disabilities.

We are adopting a participatory approach in this project – our partners are conducting training sessions for Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (DPOs), who in turn train communities in the villages. We have involved key organisations in this project – specialist schools for hearing impairment, amputee groups etc. so that people with disabilities can have a say in how they want messages to be transmitted to them. Right now our collaborating local partner organisations are identifying other DPOs and organising workshops.

Disaster Risk Reduction and preparedness in Nigeria and Togo

We are strengthening capacities of Mental Health workers to provide mental health support in crisis situations. All these projects are strongly focused in working through our local partners, capacitating them, working in collaboration and therefore, assuring sustainability and continuation after the Ebola crisis period.

Beyond the realm of mental health, CBM is supporting existing partners involved in eye health in Sierra Leone, to sustain their programmes and to reduce the vulnerability of their target group to Ebola. The partners have had to scale down their eye health activities in their catchment areas thereby depriving communities of much needed eye health service. A person who is blind is doubly vulnerable compared to able-bodied members of society due to the fact that they require support in their daily living as a result of an inaccessible environment. A key strategy Ebola health workers are promoting is the “don’t touch rule” to reduce the spread of infection. Such a rule, to a person who is blind completely immobilises them and elevates their risk of infection to Ebola.

In this context, CBM eye health partners aim to: increase the knowledge of their staff and traditional leaders regarding Ebola to enable them to effectively sensitize communities in the catchment area; and to work with DPOs to reach out to persons with disabilities especially persons who are blind.

The current Ebola epidemic has overloaded and stressed health infrastructure in the affected countries; the number of health care workers – already insufficient before the outbreak – has gone down even further as many health workers became infected and lost the fight. Social stigma towards survivors of Ebola and their families has increased thus worsening distress and isolation. Family and social ties have been severed; cultural practices have been over-turned; and livelihoods have been severely strained.

In future, the affected countries, and the international community will have to engage at a much wider scale to re-establish the socio-cultural, economic, and political systems, which Ebola has severely shaken. This will be a critical and indispensable step if the affected countries are to overcome future public health challenges like the current one.

In the coming months, CBM will participate, with other development agencies and the governments of the three affected countries, in a major conference looking at lessons learnt in mental health and psychosocial support from the outbreak, and how we can work together to rebuild mental health services.

Further reading

News: World Health Day – One Year On

New York advocacy updates

Categories: Adult, Advocacy, Beyond 2015, CBM, Development, Post-2015, PWD, SDGs

On 9-11 February, I was part of a group in New York, USA, advocating for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development framework. Orsolya Bartha (The International Disability Alliance) and I were quite fortunate this week to collaborate with Andrew Griffiths from Sightsavers who is also an Executive Committee Co-Chair of Beyond 2015.

Beyond 2015 is a global civil society campaign, pushing for a strong and legitimate post-2015 development framework. In NY, we work closely with Beyond 2015 in our joint advocacy as civil society stakeholders at the United Nations. More than 1000 organisations participate in Beyond 2015 from more than 130 countries representing 41 countries in Africa, 29 countries in Asia and the Pacific, 35 countries in Europe, 2 countries in North America and 26 countries in Latin America. CBM International, CBM Australia, CBM Canada and CBM UK are all participating organisations in Beyond 2015.

We met with an array of Member States, including: Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, the People’s Republic of China, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, and the United Kingdom. We received strong support for the inclusion of persons with disabilities from these meetings. In addition, once again we were told that persons with disabilities are a very strong advocacy group at the UN. Specifically, Brazil stated that persons with disabilities are the most organised of all advocacy groups at the UN. Thank you, Brazil!

Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, presenting at Commission for Social Development.

We were particularly positive about meeting with the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the UN since it is the first time we had the opportunity to meet with this important Member State. The People’s Republic of China is very supportive of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development process, in particular in areas of poverty eradication, employment, health, and education. In our meeting we learnt that there are approximately 88 million persons with disabilities living in China and that the China Disabled Persons’ Federation is quite active and collaborates with the government. Specifically, Peng Liyuan, the wife of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, has called for a “more just, tolerant and sustainable environment for the development of disabled people.”

In addition to the afore-mentioned post-2015 events, the 53rd Session of the Commission for Social Development also took place in NY on 4-13 February. Member States that explicitly referenced persons with disabilities include: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, the EU, Finland, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Sweden, and Viet Nam. I had the lovely opportunity to speak with Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities who gave a fantastic presentation at the session. Watch the video of Ms. Devandas’ presentation. We greatly look forward to working with you in the coming months and years!

Elizabeth Lockwood is CBM’s UN Advocacy Officer based in New York. Elizabeth focuses on developing advocacy strategies to raise awareness, network, build capacity, and lobby for the rights of persons with disabilities at the UN level in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Inclusive Development. This post first appeared on the CBM International blog.

Throughout the world poverty and disability go hand-in-hand

Categories: Adult, Advocacy, CBM, People with disabilities, Post-2015, Poverty, UN

Even in a ‘developed’ country like the UK, disabled people are more likely to be poor than the able-bodied.  Government figures show that about 20% of British families with at least one disabled member live in relative poverty compared to only 15% of other families.

There are two key reasons for this.  Firstly, disability is an expensive business.  Most significantly disabled people face extra costs due to their impairment.  They may need to buy specialist equipment, they may have to carry out more laundry, they may need to use taxis because of inaccessible public transport or they may require an extra room to accommodate a personal assistant.

Secondly, it can be hard for disabled people to find paid work.  Although there has been some progress, disabled people are still more likely to be unemployed than their non-disabled counterparts.  While more than three-quarters of the British working-age non-disabled population are in employment, less than 50% of working-age disabled people have a job.  As a result, many disabled people have to rely on benefits and, not surprisingly, have difficulty making ends meet.

I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to obtain employment.  After graduating, I spent six months out of work and had to apply for more than 40 jobs before I managed to persuade an employer to recruit me.  This was despite having a degree from Cambridge University and a postgraduate diploma.  Fifteen years later, I have a rewarding, well-paid job.  Like millions of other people, I have to cope with the daily challenges of living with a disability.  However, I’m one of the lucky ones.  At least I don’t have to cope with poverty as well.

 

Steve Mannion

By Steve Mannion

Jul 5th 2012

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Ponseti training in Antsirabe

Categories: Adult, CBM, Child, Clubfoot, Madagascar, Surgery, Training
Ponseti Casting at Antsirabe course

Ponseti Casting at Antsirabe course. Photo © Steve Mannion

Next stop was Antsirabe, 3 hours drive south of Antananarivo at CRMM (Centre du Reeducation Mortrice de Madagascar) – a dedicated orthopaedic disability hospital. Here we are running a ponseti training course for 26 practitioners, and operating on neglected clubfoot surgical cases.

CRMM here, and CAM in Antananarivo are “pilot centres” for the Madagascar Clubfoot Project. With the support of CBM, we will make further visits over the next 12 months and then we’ll select a local faculty of clubfoot trainers who will be able to instruct clubfoot practitioners throughout Madagascar.

The vision is to create a national network of clubfoot treatment centres – ensuring that every child born with clubfoot in Madagascar will have access to treatment and that the disability of clubfoot will be prevented. CBM desperately needs ongoing funding in able to achieve this goal.

Babies & participants at Antsirabe Ponseti course

Babies & participants at Antsirabe Ponseti course. Photo © Steve Mannion

Will

By Dr Will Dean

Mar 27th 2011

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Malawi to start Phaco Cataract Operations

Categories: Adult, CBM, Malawi

So an awesome week, an historic week, and a lot of fun with a few very happy patients!

Nkhoma now has a modern ‘phaco’ cataract surgery service! The first permanent such unit in Malawi. Fantastic.

Although the technique we use for cataract surgery for thousands of operations each year is very very good, and we can perform an operation to treat blindness in 7-8 minutes; the availability of ‘phaco’ allows for a much smaller incision in the eye, and a faster visual recovery. Also less astigmatism (and need for glasses) and glare after surgery. Some of the really good artificial lenses we can use, have a built in UV filter to protect the retina from the sun! Which is nice.

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Will

By Dr Will Dean

Nov 13th 2010

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Only eye

Categories: Adult, Blindness, Cataract

Next week we have another Salima session. An extra ambulance of patients from the Lakeshore every day, referred by one of our close partners Malawi Council for the Handicapped, MACOHA. So a busy week ahead screening and helping two hundred or so people from Salima District, around a two hour drive from Nkhoma.

Mr Kambewa, the fantastic Clinical Officer and Cataract Surgeon here at Nkhoma, does a large amount of the work in theatre. Operating patients cataracts with high quality and high volume!

One of the jobs that falls on me however is operating all glaucoma patients (the surgery is a bit longer… around 30 minutes instead of 8 minutes for cataract surgery, and a bit more tricky with all the small stitches); and also all the patients who need cataract surgery, but have only ‘one eye’, in that the other is blind from a cause that we cannot treat.

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Will

By Dr Will Dean

Oct 13th 2010

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World Sight Day 2010

Categories: Adult, Blindness, CBM

Thursday 14th is World Sight Day! An international day of awareness to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

80% of global blindness is avoidable.

4% of the World’s population are blind or severely visually impaired. That’s four times the population of the UK! It’s truly staggering, but we are also celebrating. Yes there is a lot of need indeed, but we are winning the war on blindness.

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