HEAL takes first successful steps towards helping child amputees in India

HEAL secretary Mrs Laxmi Tatineni plays with a young patient at the HEAL/ELoH artificial limb centre

HEAL secretary Mrs Laxmi Tatineni plays with a young patient at the HEAL/ELoH artificial limb centre

ELIZABETH’S Legacy of Hope (ELoH), HEAL’s partners in providing artificial limbs for some of India’s most vulnerable young people, have expressed their delight at the first children receiving prosthetic legs at Paradise Village.

In September, a new joint project was launched to provide 80 child amputees with long-term and holistic support, including access to prosthetics, surgeries and emotional care.

This, say ELoH, will have vital empowering effects on the children, enabling them to regain mobility, rebuild their self-esteem and go to school.

Amputation specialist Dr Pabbineedi, of Manchester, UK, holds a consultation clinic at the Paradise Village artificial limb centre

Amputation specialist Dr Pabbineedi, of Manchester, UK, holds a consultation clinic at the Paradise Village artificial limb centre

HEAL has been playing host to clinics at its temporary artificial limb centre on the Paradise campus and their partners were thrilled to see first evidence of children receiving treatment in Andhra Pradesh.

They Tweeted: “Great news – the first children in our #India project have received #prosthetic legs! @HealVillage” after receiving photographs from Paradise Village administrators.

HEAL has been grateful to receive advice and help from Dr Raghunath Pabbineedi, from Manchester University Hospital, who held an early clinic for local amputees towards the end of last year and returned for another visit to meet up with HEAL founder Dr Satya Prasad Koneru this month.

Equipment for making prosthetics at the Paradise Village artificial limb centre

Equipment for making prosthetics at the Paradise Village artificial limb centre

Dr Pabbineedi, a specialist in amputation and artificial limbs, previously launched a ‘Buy a Leg’ campaign for those in India who cannot afford prosthetic limbs, and ‘Sandals not Candles’ to buy amputees new shoes.

He has reached out to patients in inaccessible parts of tribal India with mobile workshops, creating the Joining Hands Charity to help amputees in Andhra Pradesh.

In this area amputation is relatively common due to deformities, diseases such as leprosy and wounds becoming infected because people don’t routinely wear shoes.

Dr Pabbineedi said: “They are very disadvantaged by their disability. They often cannot work and are usually looked after by their families, but some have no one.

“By helping these people it is often possible to give them back their livelihood, so that they can work and feed their families.”

Dr Pabbineedi, from Manchester, UK, holds a consultation clinic at the Paradise Village artificial limb centre

HEAL have appointed a senior technician, Prabhakar Arja, to build new limbs at a temporary base in the Paradise Village Institute for Visually Challenged, while work begins to create a new health centre and artificial limb centre combined.

Guided by ELoH, HEAL set out on field visits to several districts, including local hospitals, to build up a picture of how many under-18s would need their services, slowly developing the first comprehensive database of child amputees in the state.

In India, an estimated 9.9 million people live as amputees and the level of lower limb amputations is among the highest in the world. Children with disabilities are five times more likely to be out of school than other marginalized groups, and one in four children with disabilities will experience violence during their lifetime.

Prosthetic feet at Paradise Village artificial limb centre

Prosthetic feet at Paradise Village artificial limb centre

In addition, access to healthcare is inadequate or lacking completely in rural settings and amputees have rarely received the support they needed until now.

With families often unable to access medical care that can address complicated health issues such as amputations, child amputees are left facing severely reduced mobility which has a crucial impact on their social development – child amputees are often found on the streets, begging.

Despite the significant need of support, there remain few organisations in Andhra Pradesh specialising in the particular needs of child amputees, so ELoH and HEAL are proud to step in and fill this gap.