The U.S. Agency for International Development supports the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), a Lao non-profit organization that works in partnership with the Centre for Medical Rehabilitation to help ensure that people with physical disabilities have local, free access to quality, nationally-managed rehabilitation services.
The project helps support women, men, girls and boys with physical disabilities in Laos to gain free access to prosthetic, orthotics and physical therapy. USAID funds training activities to develop quality standards of care while improving the quality of prostheses and increasing patient satisfaction. Strengthening clinical skills helps provide essential rehabilitation services throughout the country. USAID support has enabled COPE to organize training for Centre for Medical Rehabilitation staff at five provincial centers in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Champasak, Savannakhet and Xieng Khuang so that the government’s clinical and technical staff have the relevant skills and can ensure the necessary quality of services to patients.
IMPROVING SERVICES AND ELIMINATING BARRIERS
The project strengthens the rehabilitation facilities at the centers currently supported by COPE to ensure that physical rehabilitation services are available. Patients unable to afford prosthetics and orthotics or services such as physical therapy and occupational therapy are offered them free of charge. In addition, COPE staff provides food and transportation vouchers for patients living in rural areas far from rehabilitation centers. The project works through COPE to strengthen the management skills of the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation staff under the Ministry of Health to create quality management systems that improve the standards of care and overall services to people with disabilities. The project also strengthens COPE’s organizational capacity to create more sustainability so it can continue operating without relying on donors.
IMPROVING OUTREACH AND REFERRALS SYSTEM
Many patients, especially women and ethnic minorities living in remote villages, do not know that these services are available. USAID assistance enables COPE to promote an outreach program for raising awareness and strengthening the referrals system through the Lao Government health system. The project also financially supports the production cost of prostheses or orthoses, enabling poor patients to access services.
IMPACT AND RESULTS
In July 2016, after a year and a half of USAID assistance, the project reached 1,288 persons with disabilities through an outreach campaign, provided 1,472 persons with disabilities with free prosthetics and orthotics, transportation, food and lodging while accessing the rehabilitation facilities, and trained 39 technical staff and 20 management personnel on improving quality of care.
In 2015, the project conducted a beneficiary survey that revealed an overall increase from three to four percent in patient satisfaction over the last year with the services, prosthetics and orthotics provided by the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation compared with previous years. The project also supports setting national quality standards for lower-limb prostheses, which is the first national standard on physical and occupational therapy in Lao PDR.
The project will continue to work with the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation by strengthening the referrals system and technical skills of the prosthetist, orthotist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist staff, management level personnel so the center can provide ongoing support persons with disabilities in Lao PDR in the future.
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