Assistive devices still out of reach for persons with disabilities

Africa, August 16 2016

RWANDA: High cost and unavailability of assistive devices & technologies such as wheelchairs, prostheses, hearings aids, visual aids on the Rwandan market is still a major challenge for people with disabilities.

For instance, prostheses cost between Rwf220,000 and Rwf360,000, crutches between Rwf20,000 and Rwf40,000, while wheelchairs cannot be found for less than Rwf 250,000. Even a simple white cane for people who are blind costs between Rwf 30,000 and Rwf60,000.

Pelagie Mukansanga, who lives in Kamonyi,has a daughter with a leg and arm impairment which she got at the age of five.They tried to get medical treatment everywhere, but doctors could not cure her.

“Now she is 10 years old, and she can’t go to school or do anything because when she cannot walk. So I decided to keep her at home until I can get some devices,” Mukansanga explains.

The mother would like that the community-based health insurance (mutuelle de santé)could cover all medical expenses including the cost of assistive devices.

Emmanuel Ndayisaba,the executive secretary of the National Council for People with Disabilities (NCPD),says that while they have had support from some donors, there are still many who are hopelessly waiting to get assistive devices. He, too, thinks that if the mutuelle scheme can be involved, many people could be reached.

“We have been advocating for this to be covered by mutuelle for long, and now we are seeing some progress in the discussions between different stakeholders.We hope that with the fiscal year 2017/18, it can go ahead,” he explains.

Pierre Claver Nzahumunyurwa,the director of mobilization for mutuelle de santé scheme at the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB),points out that the issue is known but that the prohibitive cost of the devices makes it impossible to include them in the budget.

“It requires an increase of our budget to cover this,” he explains. “Research and discussions between different entities involved are necessary to establish a clear plan of the budget and implementation.”

Source: Rwanda Focus

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