October 2008

Research made clear that many wheelchairs are failing to adequately meet the needs of people in developing nations.  Historically, most wheelchair provision has only focused on the product in isolation to the individual who needs it. Their disability, size, lifestyle and environment are rarely considered. Most of these wheelchairs therefore do not meet the user’s needs or provide them with the maximum independence and mobility, and the majority quickly break down in the harsh unpaved environments in which they are used.

In order to accomplish that a wheelchair service is effective, it needs to be comprehensive: so not only make or provide wheelchairs, but also provide assessment and prescription services that can make the difference between someone receiving a good wheelchair and someone developing life-threatening secondary complications such as pressure sores.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines an appropriate wheelchair as follows: a wheelchair is appropriate when it meets the user’s needs and environmental conditions; provides proper fit and postural support, is safe and durable; and is available and can be accessed, maintained and sustained in the country at the most economical and affordable price.

The result of our project should be producing special wheelchairs and seating.We have planned a trip to Mombasa to visit the projectboard in the period of 6 till 9 December this year.

We keep you informed,

Pieter Bas Opheij, Hennie van Gilst, Hans Bennis