JKUAT Physiotherapy Dons and Engineering Staff Trained on Wheelchair Essentials

Dr Daniel Kariuki (L) and Dr. Wallace Karuguti (R) in consultation with a wheelchair beneficiary during the training

A wheelchair, like medication, does not fit the description “one size fits all.” Rather, it must be prescribed by qualified personnel to meet the user’s mobility and environmental needs. Furthermore, affordable and high-quality wheelchairs are required to improve the mobility of people with disabilities, which is a fundamental right.

For this reason, Latter Day Saints Charities (LDSC) from United states of America, and faculty from Utah and Rocky Universities in collaboration with College of Health Sciences (COHES), JKUAT embarked on a one-week Trainer-of-Trainers Basic Wheelchair Course program.

The program aimed to train lecturers and clinical instructors in the Rehabilitative services sector in the assessment, prescription, fitting, evaluation and administering the best-suited wheelchairs to People Living with disabilities (PWDs).

Dr. Reuben Thuo presents Dr Joseph Matheri with his certificate

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Principal, COHES, Dr. Reuben Thuo said the training will be essential in equipping physiotherapy and occupational therapy practitioners with the necessary skills in assessing and effectively catering to the needs of wheelchair users.

“This venture is an important facet in building the capacity of our personnel in understanding the standards on wheelchair production. I believe this is a good opportunity to help People with disabilities,” Dr. Thuo said.

The training, he added, would ensure that affordable wheelchairs are available to people with disabilities living in the community, thereby elevating their quality of life.

Boyd Wagstaff a technical trainer together with Fredrick Amirah and David Chitayi both from COETEC

According to the Chairman, Department of Rehabilitative Sciences, Dr. Joseph Matheri, globally, approximately 15% of the population of Kenya included live with a disability with at least one of every ten needing a mobility aid thus there is a huge gap in making affordable wheelchair equipment a priority.

“This training is a noble deed as it will provide wheelchairs that will aid PWDs access spaces that they cannot. As medical practitioners we must give them the best service and the skills imparted through this program will ensure we do just that,” Dr. Matheri observed.

On his part, Mr. John Dow, the lead training coordinator for LDSC thanked the trainees for participating in the training, noting that it was a requirement under World Health Organization standards for medical practitioners who cater to PWDs.

“This training is a mutual program and I hope that we can exchange ideas on wheelchair handling, assembling, and prescription for the PWDs,” Mr. Dow stated.

Prof. Thiong’o Principal COPAS during the closing ceremony

During the closing ceremony, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua who was represented by Prof. Thuku Thiong’o, Principal College of Pure and Applied Sciences said the University was keen on supporting the Kenyan Government which strives to ensure equal participation, a building block that is instrumental in the justice and economic growth of the country.

“The government is transforming the lives of persons with disabilities by mobilizing national and global commitment in publicizing issues that would help eliminate stigma and discrimination which is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which advocates for improving the living conditions of persons with disabilities in every country, particularly in developing countries.”

Dr. Hiram Ndiritu presents a certificate to Mr. George Kamau from COETEC

The Principal College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC) Dr. Hiram Ndiritu applauded the church for changing livelihoods in society by being instrumental in this unique program which he said was a first. He also described it as a holistic approach that would cater to persons with disabilities and therefore reduce inequality.

“Focusing on disabilities is part of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly number 10 which builds on the principle of “leaving no one behind”. The management of JKUAT has ensured that the facilities are now inclusive because our mission as a University is to offer accessible training to all.

The joint training of five faculty from the department of Rehabilitative Sciences, COHES, and seven technical staff from COETEC was characterized by practical sessions that assessed persons with disabilities who were present at the training and thereafter engaged in product assembly, fitting, and wheelchair adjustment.

Barbara Okumu (L) and Claudius Chepkemoi (R) both JKUAT Alumnae assess PWDs

Participants after the training

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