The Minister for Health, Diane Gashumba, has pledged, in conjunction with development partners, to support the HVP Gatagara, a special hospital for persons with physical disabilities, to acquire modern equipment to fabricate orthopedic and prosthetic devices.
She was speaking during the official inauguration of HVP Gatagara/Nyanza specialised Orthopedics Hospital in Southern Province.
“HVP Gatagara was the first centre for the care, education and reintegration of the handicapped people and has been in existence for the last 58 years. It has been improving services over the years and has now been a specialised hospital.
By partnering with partners like Belgium, we hope to support a big number of people to have access to orthopedic and rehabilitation services by using community health insurance,” the Minister said.
She added that HVP staff will also receive professional training and financial support from the ministry in an effort to make the facility self-sustaining in the days to come instead of exclusively relying on donors.
Gatagara offers orthopedic services to more than 1,000 people annually and extends prosthetic body parts to more than 100.
These numbers are expected to increase drastically with the designation of the facility as a specialized hospital for the physically handicapped.
Kizito Misago, the Director General of HVP Gatagara said that the hospital provides orthopedic care ranging from complete ankle-replacement surgery to more common tendon and ligament injuries.
The services have helped many people with disabilities to lead independent and fruitful lives after successful therapies and given assistive devices.
“Now that we have started operating as a recognized hospital it is a big honor for us. We hope to cover a big number of people compared to the number we have now. The next step is to improve facilities and increase specialized orthopedics staff from the current five to ten,” he said.
Misago added that they plan to expand available services to include ophthalmology, dentistry, and services that deal with conditions of the ear, nose, and throat and related structures of the head and neck because they realized that the majority of disabled patients they receive have such problems and they are required to transfer them elsewhere while things could be easier by getting the services locally.
Statistics indicate that the centre receives an estimated 4,000 patients, including 1,500 children on residential basis who receive care and education (stay of several years).
In addition, about 2,500 physically disabled people are treated on an outpatient or semi-residential basis (average stay of one month).