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UAE assistance puts Yemeni amputees back on their feet: report

posted on 12/09/2015: 1014 views


ADEN: Some have been waiting for a year, others since they were wounded in fighting with Houthi rebels over the past five months, but now, with help from the UAE, dozens of amputees have received their artificial limbs, according to a local newspaper.

Commenting on the reopening of the Prostheses and Physiotherapy Centre with the financial help from the UAE, the Abu Dhabi-based "The National" said that not all the patients at the centre were injured during the war. Some already had prosthetic limbs before the conflict began and needed to change their limbs every year.

The centre was damaged in months of heavy fighting between Houthi rebels and loyalists of the exiled president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

The UAE has now provided the centre with machines and materials needed to make more artificial limbs so that those on the waiting list can receive help and also promised to pay salaries so employees can return to work, the paper reported.

More than 100 people have been waiting for artificial limbs from the centre, located in Al Sheik Othman district the only place in Aden that provides prosthetics services and devices.

Mohammed Salem, 23, a Yemeni soldier, who was injured by shrapnel while fighting against the Houthis during a battle at Aden's airport in April told the English language daily that his left leg had to be amputated.

"I spent five months trying to get an artificial leg and finally got an industrial leg from the Emirates. Now, I can feel like I am human again because I can walk like other people," Mr Salem told.

He said, "I am grateful to the UAE, as I believe that aiding patients who are suffering is "the best help for Yemenis".

Bashaer Mohammed, 6, was born without a right leg. She received a prosthetic leg when she was five years old, but has not been able to get a new limb.

"I have been trying to change my limb for a year, but I could not as there were no limbs at the centre even before the war in Aden. I just got a leg from the Emirates and I can walk freely," Bashaer told the daily.

Brigadier General Abdullah Al Dhaheri of the UAE armed forces, who is also the head of Aden's reconstruction committee, told The National last week: "When I visited the Prostheses and Physiotherapy Centre, I found around 120 patients waiting for limbs, and I felt for them. Now that the UAE has helped restart the hospital, there will not be a single patient waiting for treatment."

The centre was opened in 2000 and was run by Handicap International Belgium (IHB) until 2005 when its contract with the government ended.

It has since come under Yemeni management, and is currently run by Dr. Ahmed Al Sakkaf, 47, who used to work for Yemen's health ministry.

Dr. Al Sakkaf said that the foreign doctors who used to work at the centre were more qualified, but left when their contracts ended. Now, about 15 Yemeni doctors work at the centre.

"The annual budget of the centre is 1,200,000 rials [Dh20,500], but the Houthis rebels stopped the budget five months ago," he said.

After Houthi rebels seized control of Sana'a in September, they cut funding for several institutions, including the Ministry of Electricity and Water, in cities where they faced resistance such as Aden and Taez.

The undersecretary of the Emirates Red Crescent visited the centre in September and promised to reconstruct and restore it, said Dr Al Sakkaf.

ERC agreed to provide the centre with a generator and new machines that can be used to make artificial limbs, as well as more qualified foreign doctors, he said.

Dr Al Sakkaf said that most of his employees left the centre in the last five months because he could not pay their salaries.

But now that the UAE has agreed to pay for their salaries, and is helping to restart the centre, he is hopeful that Yemenis will now be able to return to their lives again. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395285411250.html

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