Myanmar: The 3-year-old smile that lit up our 2020

Born with a lower limb deficiency, Htet Oo had the first prosthesis fitted in 2018. “We were scheduled to replace it with a new prosthetic leg but the centre was closed due to COVID-19. We were starting to get worried because his old prosthesis wasn’t fitting him well anymore,” said Daw Tin Zaw Myint, Htet Oo’s mother. So, when the centre reopened amid strict COVID-19 guidelines, the family immediately headed there to get the boy the assistance that he needed.

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“The moment he started walking and running around was absolutely priceless. He was constantly smiling, and his sweet laughter is his crowning glory!” said Apolonia Elisabeth ‘Els’ Hekman, who heads ICRC’s Physical Rehabilitation Programme at Myitkyina Physical Rehabilitation Centre.

Being a professional pediatric physical therapist, I am always inspired by each individual child.

“They sense what is going on around them and react accordingly. Our actions and reactions affect their attitude and we need to present a positive and united front to them. Through a simple but effective approach philosophy, children with amputations are encouraged to have a positive, open and winning attitude about their amputations. To accept his amputation and develop a ‘can do’ approach to the challenges amputation brings” Els added.

Young Htet Oo is one of the 159 people that our team at the Myitkyina Physical Rehabilitation Centre treated this year. The centre is run by the Ministry of Health & Sports and is supported by the ICRC. It provides rehabilitation services, protheses, orthoses, assistive devices and walking aids to service users from across Kachin State. Each service user/person is treated with a holistic approach and our team considers all aspects of their lives while providing them with support – from social inclusion to potential livelihood initiatives.

Across Myanmar this year, the ICRC has assisted 2,353 service users, including 598 new service users and 8,641 service provided in six supported centers. Globally, the ICRC supports 173 physical rehabilitation centres in 46 countries. Even amid the pandemic, more than 235,000 people received services at ICRC-supported centres between January and November this year. We assisted thousands of people learn to operate and live with prosthetic arms and legs and provided more than 5,000 wheelchairs and 30,000 crutches, all with the aim of allowing people regain their dignity, mobility, which then helps with easier social and economic integration.

Source : Icrc