The successful conclusion of our initial round of funding applications meant that the project started on schedule in mid September. Since then Legs4Africa has made a shipment of essential supplies to Banjul, provided further education for our Gambian prosthetist and completed the development of our service user tracking software.
In late September, Legs4Africa shipped the project’s first consignment of reclaimed prosthetic legs and materials. The 3,000 mile journey took five weeks and arrived in port on the on the 6th of November 2017. After clearing customs, a member of Legs4Africa staff took delivery of the consignment and transported it to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul, where parts and materials will be sorted for new prosthetic leg fittings and repairs.
The shipment contained 136 prosthetic legs, each of which can either be used to create a newly customised prosthetic leg or broken down into component parts for repairs.
As well as the prosthetic leg components, we sent 260 stump stocks that improve the comfort and safety when wearing a prosthetic leg, fitting materials sufficient for 136 new leg fittings with materials to spare and 40 sach feet which will be used for repairs.
The next shipment is scheduled for March and will deliver further requested materials and components. We are in the early stages of shifting the breakdown and processing of prosthetic legs to a Uk facility which will decrease costs of shipment as well as increase the productivity of partner clinics in sub-saharan Africa.
In the provision of essential material and part supply the project looks to be ahead of schedule and likely to exceed our two year projection of providing 240 amputees in The Gambia with mobility either with a new prosthetic limb or restoration of their current prosthetic leg.
Prosthetist Education and Collaboration
Late in September Gabriel Jarjue (Gabu), The Gambia’s sole prosthetist, visited the UK to attend the British Orthopaedic Association conference and to assist with the development of the service user tracking software.
The knowledge that Gabu gained from the conference and his feedback to Legs4Africa, after visiting our Bristol facility, will be invaluable in developing and refining the project to more effectively provide for our service users.
Gabu indicated that more components are needed for the repair and fabrication of prosthetic legs for children as well as advising that certain parts of the reclaimed prosthetics that we send are unnecessary which has led to the development of our UK based processing facility.
Gabu left the UK with a bag full of prosthetic legs for children and a greater understanding of development and current orthotic practices which will benefit Legs4Africa’s service users in The Gambia. Furthermore, Gabu’s visit to Legs4Africa HQ in Bristol, gave us a clearer concept of the needs of our service users as well as the input required to complete our service user tracking software.
Service User Tracking Software Development
The service user tracking software (SUTS), which is a cornerstone for future project development, is approaching completion. The application is functional and ready to be tested. It will undergo testing in the UK before being deployed to our support staff in The Gambia in December where a further series of test and refinements will be made.
SUTS is an essential evolution for Legs4Africa. It will simplify the gathering and analysis of important data, not only regarding our current service users, but also provide a clearer indication of issues surrounding leg amputees in The Gambia as a whole.
Until now, no records have been collated regarding the numbers and needs of amputees. SUTS has the potential to revolutionise the collection and analysis of empirical data on amputees in The Gambia and beyond.
This will allow Legs4Africa, as well as other charities, to have a clearer picture of needs of amputees and can serve to be the basis of more robust and effective projects.
We are still in the early stages of the Gambian amputee Rehabilitation Project. The means of supplying, fabricating and repairing prosthetic legs for service users is in place and we will continue to provide regular shipments of much needed parts, materials and tools.
We will continue to develop the understanding and abilities of key roles such as prosthetic technicians and rehabilitation staff. Only through deeper understanding and improved effectiveness and efficiency may we develop the service enabling us to support more users to a higher standard..
We are working hard with SUTS to begin to understand what more can be done and what may be done better to meet our service user needs. After the initial testing and refinement stages, we feel that SUTS will be an invaluable tool that will serve Legs4Africa well for further project development in the years to come.
It is an exciting time for us, though there is still so much to do. Providing a comfortable and safe means of walking for some amputees is only part of our greater vision. We want every single amputee in The Gambia to have access to have the opportunity to walk unaided. Furthermore we want to support amputees beyond mobility, to enjoy their new found independence, to help them find work through provision of education and training, to take part in sports and social activities.. In short, we want all amputees in The Gambia, and beyond, to be able to take their rightful place in society.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank, on behalf of Legs4Africa’s service users, the trusts and businesses who have already invested in the future of The Gambia’s amputees.
Their donations mean that, as of November 12th, 2017, the appeal has raised £11,500 of its overall target of £60,000.
Further thanks go out to Limbtex LTD who have generously donated expensive prosthetic leg fitting materials allowing us to do even more with funds.