Guyana is a small South American country of 780,000 people located next to Venezuela. Roughly 43% of Guyana’s population lives below the poverty line. There are only 2.14 physicians per 10,000 people in Guyana compared to 24 physicians per 10,000 in the US.
With over 50,000 disabled people in Guyana, there is only one facility in the entire country providing prosthetic and orthotics device and physical rehabilitation, the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Center. The center is a non-governmental non-profit organization struggling to provide care to the large indigent disabled population. Challenges include funding for prosthetic components as well as maintaining the training level of prosthetists, orthotists, technicians, and therapists. The center employs a dedicated staff of physiotherapists, and prosthetic and orthopedic technicians. However there are no schools in Guyana for formal technical training in these prosthetics and orthotics.
In 2018, ProsthetiKa began assisting the disabled people of Guyana by providing technical training and assistance at Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Center.
Our first project in Guyana:
In April, we sent a team consisting of a prosthetist, an orthotist, a physiotherapist, and a patient peer support advocate (himself an amputee) to do an assessment of the needs and capabilities of the center. We met the staff members as well disabled people in the community and got input as to what is needed and how we might work together to make improvements. While there, we immediately got busy working hand-in-hand with local technicians to fit people with prosthetic arms and legs and orthopedic braces. In this way, patients were being served while local staff was being trained. This is the way to build local capacity and insure sustainability. The scope an size of the first project with modest but it served to show the we could work together and begin to accomplish the improvements that were so sorely needed.
The project exceeded all expectations and plans were immediately made for follow up with more intensive training and fittings of the most challenging levels of need.
Our second project in Guyana:
Two months later ProsthetiKa was contacted again by Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Center asking us to immediately provide another more intensive training project. This time the project was to be twice a long, servicing many more disabled people, narrowing the scope, but increasing the depth of training. The team returned in August to provide an intensive prosthetics workshop. This ProsthetiKa team consisted of Jon Batzdorff, CPO of California, USA, Laura Burgess, PT of London, England, and Eddy Fuentes, CPO of Guatemala City, Guatemala. Pan American Health Organization, a department of World Health Organization, offered support for the project, providing funding and prosthetic components for 25 arm and leg amputees. ProsthetiKa provided the training required to use these components to custom make and build the prosthetic limbs and to provide physical therapy to the amputees, training them to walk or to use their artificial arms.
Again the project was very successful. It concluded with a presentation of the results of the work we did in a reception attended by all of the disabled people who were part of the project, and all of the trainees. The Hon. Volda Lawrence, Minster of Health of Guyana and Dr. William Adu-Krow, Country Director of Pan American Health Organization, attended and addressed the group.
Further ProsthetiKa training workshops in Guyana will focus on lower extremity orthopedic braces, artificial arms, and braces for spinal deformities, respectively.