40 Benefit from JKUAT Customized Wheelchairs

A happy Zakayo Kibet after receiving his new Trike at Kabartonjo Sub County hospital

In a transformative endeavor aimed at enhancing accessibility and independence, 40 individuals with disabilities in Baringo County received customized wheelchairs through the collaborative efforts of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Wheelchair Project, Motivation Charitable Trust (MCT), and Baringo North Disability Initiative.

The rural outreach, conducted across Kabarnet and Kabartonjo areas on March 14th and 15th, 2024, marked the second outreach in Baringo County. It followed a previous outreach in October 2023 held in Kampi ya Samaki, Marigat sub-county. This recent effort involved JKUAT students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Medical Social Work.

The outreach provided crucial assistance to individuals requiring wheelchairs due to various reasons such as strokes, car accidents, polio, or amputation. Some participants received upgrades from poorly fitting wheelchairs, while others obtained wheelchairs for the first time, significantly improving their mobility and quality of life.

A young mother of twins is trained on how to navigate her new wheelchair at Baringo County and Referral Hospital

Baringo County was earmarked due to the dire need caused by factors such as bandit conflicts, which have resulted in an increase in disabilities due to injuries, and neglected problems such as unpurified drinking water, which can cause spine curvature and render one unable to walk.

Furthermore, before the project’s intervention, insufficient resources and awareness especially in the peripheral areas perpetuated a cycle of neglect, compelling individuals with disabilities to conceal their conditions which hindered the ability to acquire wheelchairs, despite the need.

Dr. Gerryshom Abakalwa, the Medical Superintendent at Baringo County Referral Hospital, lauded the outreach as pivotal in nurturing future healthcare providers while significantly augmenting services for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

He noted that a staggering 80% of PWDs assessed at the hospital have physical disabilities, underscoring the critical importance of tailored interventions like the provision of wheelchairs which he said was a milestone in the provision of services to PWDs.

Mr. Bernard Kiptum from the Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK), who also hails from Baringo commended the uniqueness of this initiative because of its focus on the user’s needs and application of the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines in assessing before prescription.

The team from JKUAT and Motivation charitable Trust at Kabartonjo Sub-County Hospital

“We are grateful for this outreach because Baringo North has the highest number of PWDs which stands at over 2800 and the majority who are female have physical disabilities. The engagement with the communities to create awareness has enabled school children, young mothers, and those from interior rural areas to benefit. However, we need more professionals because the entire county has three physiotherapists, seven occupational therapists and no orthopedic technologists which hinders PWDs in accessing services”.

The beneficiaries at Baringo were so grateful for this life-changing mission. Mr. Fred Kolale, a teacher from Baringo was left paralyzed after a road accident in 2006. from then on, the wheelchair challenges ranging from instability to frequent falls hindered his ability to execute his duties.

“I have been using wheelchairs that were not strong enough to bear my weight, leading to frequent falls. I am happy to have gotten one that is sturdy and can take me anywhere I want to go because it can maneuver rough terrain,” said Mr Kolale.

For Daisy Korir, a Form One student whose legs were amputated after a fire accident, getting a wheelchair for the first time means she will no longer crawl to get to her destination.

The impact of the outreach extended beyond wheelchair provision, with peer trainer Catherine Waiyego from MCT offering invaluable guidance based on her own experiences navigating life with a disability. Waiyego’s journey with Transverse Myelitis has equipped her with insights into accessibility and adaptive techniques, empowering others to overcome challenges and embrace their capabilities.

The JKUAT Wheelchair project provides highly subsidized wheelchairs which are only issued after assessment, prescription, and fitting. The user is then trained on how to navigate the device and maintain it while at home. It comes with a toolbox and a pump to ensure that mobility is not curtailed at any point.

Wheelchair beneficiaries at the Baringo County Referral Hospital in Kabarnet

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