In the last five years hospital staff and local amputees have identified the gap between physical and emotional rehabilitation provisions. Whether it be in The Gambia, Ghana or Uganda it is something that gets brought up time and time again – the related traumas associated with limb loss, how it further adds to existing pressures and the fact the under-funded, oversubscribed services struggle to meet needs.
Mental health in all it’s forms; good, poor, severe, well-managed, medicated… Whatever it may be is a very complicated element of being human with an infinite number of variables. Amputees in sub-Saharan Africa understandably can be vulnerable to a decline in mental health. However a good support network can really support good mental health whether that be friends, family or a social enterprise group like Vincent Ruhweza’s in Fort portal, Western Uganda.
Community groups encourage the development of genuine relationships, build communities and best of all it doesn’t require costly professional input so easily accessible to those with little to no income.
The Gambia’s first community support group is now a registered association advocating for amputees across the country but in its humble beginnings it provided a safe space for people with the shared experience of limb loss to relate to, advise and support one-another. Without such a group the Gambian Amputee Association (GAA) wouldn’t exist nor would the Gambian National Amputee Football Team.
In the last six weeks six meetings have taken place. Three in Kampala, one in Kasese Western Uganda and two in the Eastern region in collaboration with Integrated Disabled Womens Acitvities (IDIWA) in Iganga and local Mourine Alinykira in Jinja.