A record number of disabled Afghans – more than 12,000 people – sought assistance for the first time in 2018 at physical rehabilitation centres run by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) across Afghanistan.
“Alarmingly, despite the record level of assistance provided, many more people remain in need,” the ICRC said in a statement.
Last year was the ICRC’s 30th year of running rehabilitation programs in the country. More than 22,000 artificial limbs and other orthopaedic devices – also a record number — were provided in 2018, together with 2,000 wheelchairs, 18,000 crutches, and countless physiotherapy sessions.
“The record number of Afghans seeking rehabilitation assistance is a reflection of the huge levels of need,” said Alberto Cairo, ICRC’s physical rehabilitation program manager in Afghanistan. “Even with all of the people we helped, we aren’t coming close to being able to assist everyone in need.”
Due to decades of war, diseases and traffic incidents about five percent of Afghanistan’s population is physically disabled, according to the Ministry of Public Health.
“The issue of disability is worrying, though, we don’t have exact figures in this regard but we can presume that around three to five percent of the country’s population is disabled,” said Health Minister Feruzuddin Feruz.
The ICRC started assisting disabled people in Kabul in 1988 by providing them with limb-fitting services and physiotherapy sessions to help them regain their mobility.
Today the organization runs seven physical rehabilitation centres including in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad, Gulbarhar, Faizabad and Lashkar Gah.