Almost 15 percent of the world’s population lives with a physical or mental disability, classified as a condition that limits a person’s movements and senses. While it is difficult to predict exactly how many individuals suffer from physical disability in Nepal, it is apparent that many children are living with ailments that greatly impede daily activities.
Nepal’s civil war, lack of rural medical services, limited education, and the devastating earthquake that struck in April 2015, are all factors contributing to an increased number of children living with disabilities today.
High levels of poverty and poor access to healthcare services, especially in Nepal’s hilly and mountainous regions, prevent children from receiving needed care. Consequently, general health tends to be poor and an individual’s ability to work is decreased, leading to an overall lack of financial stability.
One organization helping Nepali children with disabilities receive medical care and rehabilitation is the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC).
Founded in 1985, HRDC is the largest pediatric orthopedic hospital and rehabilitation center in Nepal, performing an average of over 1,500 surgeries each year. With a mission to treat underprivileged children with physical disabilities, HRDC provides reconstructive surgery, nonsurgical interventions, physiotherapy, low cost prostheses and follow-up care. Since its founding, over 67,000 children have received care regardless of their ability to pay.
Helping the Helpers
Direct Relief is dedicated to supporting HRDC’s critical work.
Specializing in muscular-skeletal disorders, HRDC focuses its treatment and rehabilitation services on children below 18 years of age with priority given to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Some of the conditions HRDC provides treatment for include: post-burn contracture (rigidity of joints), bone and joint infection, metabolic bone disease and tumors.
With funding from Direct Relief, HRDC is able to conduct medical outreach missions throughout Nepal, targeting children living in remote and underprivileged communities, where medical care is inaccessible.
These Direct Relief-funded missions are currently being led by HRDC’s staff member, Dr. Bibek Banskota, who aims to identify and treat disabled children living in remote areas. Reaching patients in need of medical assistance can be challenging as roads tends to be rough and narrow, and in many cases dangerous.
In light of the barriers faced in delivering medical care, these outreach efforts are well worth the journey. Nearly 400 children have been seen and almost 100 have been given surgical dates, revealing the overwhelming demand for these critical services.
In addition to HRDC, Direct Relief also supports the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Center (SIRC), a rehabilitation facility that supports spinally injured patients in Nepal living in resource-poor settings. The dedicated work of partners like these is essential to positive health outcomes and a better quality of life for those living with physical disabilities.