February 14th, 2017
The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre: A True Centre of Excellence
Celebrating its 18th year in operation, The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre has helped thousands of people, and is now looking to expand and improve yet further, helping more people than ever. Combating social stigmas and empowering individuals, the Centre has come a long way, but its work is not complete. With increased awareness and funds, the Centre can carry on the amazing work it has done for almost two decades.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed, mountainous area of about 1,700 square miles located in the south west of Azerbaijan, populated by an Armenian majority. Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR), calls for an independent Nagorno-Karabakh have become more and more prominent. With Armenia backing the succession of an independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and Azerbaijan claiming the land as its own sovereign territory, the countries have come to blows. Escalating into a hot war between 1990-1994, causing the deaths of 30,000 Individuals, the displacement of 597,000 people, and wounding thousands of others, tensions have never resided between the two sides. Since 1994, violence has continued to sporadically flare up between the two nations, and the Nagorno-Karabakh population, in particular in April 2016 when clashes resulted in over 200 deaths. Despite not having exercised political control over the area for over 20 years; Azerbaijan is determined not to lose the territory.
Need for a centre
With thousands of surviving casualties, no official political leadership, isolation from the wider international community and entrenched cultural issues, dating back to the USSR, this war-torn area of the world is in great need of aid. In particular, a huge issue around disability, whether mental or physical, caused by the war or other factors, has become apparent. With nowhere to get long term treatment, those with disabilities often became recluses, adding to the already crippling stigmas. Being shunned by society, with no help, otherwise capable men, women and children lose their ability to be economically independent, and much of their human dignity. With all this in mind, attempts to help this grave situation are so important.
This is where the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre comes in.
The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre and HART
In 1998, Vardan Tadevosyan, with the help and initiative of Baroness Cox and Mike Newman, began to set up a centre to help those struggling with disability. With construction quickly underway on facilities unrivalled in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the intensive training of nurses throughout 1999, the centre was up and running and ready to help those in need by 2000. With an official mission to, ‘provide treatment to the disabled and integrate them with society, promoting their autonomy and independence’ the centre was set to lead the way in treatment in the region and pave the way to destroying social stigmas around disability.
In the first 5 years of its operations, over 70% of those treated were disabled as a direct result of the war in the early 1990s. The conflict had taken a great toll on the lives of military personal and civilians alike, with thousands going untreated until Vardan got to work. Quickly becoming known in the area as a centre for excellence in both treatment and rehabilitation, the Centre has grown and grown, expanding its areas of expertise and therefore increasing the variety of disabilities it could treat. With the continued efforts by HART to help fund and advise, the Centre was named The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre in 2005, in honour of HART’s founder and President.
Since 2005, the centre has expanded hugely. It now employs 50 specialists, 25 of which are medical specialists, including a rehabilitative doctor, psychologists, speech therapists, and several nurses. The Centre also uses art classes to aid patient’s intellectual development, a sports club to enable the improvement of their physical and psychological health, and a IT classroom to help improve technological proficiency to allow participants to become more employable. With the newest additions of a hydrotherapy pool, and a day care centre to care for children between the ages of two and seven that have mental and physical difficulties, the Rehabilitation Centre is truly revolutionising disability care in Nagorno-Karab
Strength to strength
2016, despite the flare up in conflict in April which affected the capacity of its work, became the Centre’s most successful year. Treating 138 in-patients, 358 out-patients and 72 day-patients, it was a busy year. With medical professionals conducting over 2000 home visits, leading 4758 treatment sessions, and 1537 hydrotherapy sessions, alongside specialists taking 3638 psychological sessions and 3335 speech therapy sessions, the Centres remit has expanded hugely. Vardan’s work does not end here; the Rehabilitation Centre also partners with two other departments in other regions, treating a further 100 patients in 2016, and through summer and winter camps, another 200 young people with different disabilities are supported.
Into 2017, Vardan plans to begin the building of a new larger site, and several satellite centres around the country, allowing more disabled citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh to receive treatment and find the dignity denied to them by the longstanding stigmas entrenched into the region.
Continue to help us
The centre is a perfect synonym for HART’s mission; ‘bringing light to hidden suffering’. Not only are the disabled people of Nagorno-Karabakh left to fend for themselves by the state, suffering in silence, so too is Nagorno-Karabakh itself in relation to the wider international community. With little international attention, this is one of the least visible places in the world, and its residents continue to live with the constant threat of a return of war and with the social, economic and political isolation that comes from its unrecognised status.
With continued funds, support, and advocacy, the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre can carry on its work as it has done for the last 18 years, and indeed continue to grow and push the limits of disability treatment in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Disclaimer: This blog is a space for discussion and personal reflection. Any opinions expressed within the blog are those of the author and are not necessarily held by HART. Individual authors are responsible for the accuracy of statements made within the blog.
If you would like to find out more about HART’s work in Nagorno-Karabakh, or read the recent visit report, please click here.
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