Uniting HART’s Partners to Introduce Rehabilitative Healthcare to Burma

31 May 2019

In April, HART united three of its partners to discuss how rehabilitative healthcare for people with disabilities can be introduced to communities in Burma. Dr. Sasa’s team from Health and Hope (Chin State) and Community Health Workers from Shan Women’s Action Network (Shan State) were given preliminary training by Vardan Tadevosyan from the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Before our visit, our research revealed a significant lack of provisions for people with disabilities in Burma. Most notably, in the remote areas where our partners operate, people living with disabilities have zero access to any type of relevant care, causing them to suffer greatly. With this in mind, HART sought to connect the knowledge and expertise of HART partner Vardan Tadevosyan in Nagorno-Karabakh with that of our Burmese partners.

Since 1999, Baroness Cox has supported Vardan in his provision of disability rehabilitation in a once bomb-damaged school building that Vardan has transformed into an internationally recognised Centre of Excellence. He has trained more than 60 staff to provide therapeutic services for more than 1,000 people per year suffering from both physical and psychological disabilities (such as infants with cerebral palsy and Downs Syndrome, to children with autism and elderly people with strokes). Vardan’s experience in providing such education in a post-conflict zone means that he is distinctively equipped to provide care for the disabled in Burma.

Having travelled to Burma with the HART team, Vardan was able to assess the potential for training Community Health Workers. Hoping to improve the understanding of the concept of rehabilitation, he highlighted his priority to “improve disabled mobility, independence, walking skills, wheelchair use and self-care”. These improvements will give disabled people more confidence and opportunity to integrate into their community, increasing their self-esteem and reducing stigma surrounding disability.

Discussing the basic rehabilitation skills he would introduce, Vardan stressed the importance of “improving disabled mobility including walking strength and skills, using a wheelchair, and practicing self-care such as bathing and dressing, as well as preventing pressure sores”.

Repeatedly, Vardan stressed the importance of training Community Health Worker’s in how to train the families of disabled people – “Health Workers won’t be with the patients all of the time, so it is crucial that families are properly trained in the simple methods to improve their disabled family member’s lives.”

Vardan showing SWAN CHW’s a basic example of mobility therapy
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