South African youth trained to develop assistive devices Australia Awards Alumnus Ncedo Ludada is training students in Prosthetics and Orthotics Science at the Walter Sisulu University.

Although it is difficult to estimate the number of people in need of mobility assistive devices, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 0.5% of every population need assistive devices among developing nations. Australia Awards Alumnus Ncedo Ludada (Masters in Clinical Rehabilitation in 2015) from the Flinders University is now able to contribute to developing and educating on mobility assistive devices.

Ncedo says the acquired skills and knowledge he gained during his time in Australia have played a role in his involvement in the newly established Bachelor of Science (BSc) training program in Prosthetics and Orthotics Science at Walter Sisulu University in his country South Africa where he lectures.

“During my time in Australia I enhanced my competency in research and development which includes strategic planning to improve capacity of research and publications for the Walter Sisulu University. My responsibilities include lecturing, research work, clinical patient work and academic administrative duties. I am also involved in project seeking to establish a Prosthetic and Orthotic Centre under Public Private Partnership in order to address the limited access to mobility assistive technology for people with disabilities especially in the rural areas. The project began in 2012, however the actual training and education of students started in January 2015. My responsibilities on the project, include planning, development, establishing, managing and monitoring and evaluation,” says Ncedo.

Ncedo says the main goal of the project is to enhance quality of life of people with disabilities. However, the anticipated outcomes for training and education project is to improve prosthetic and orthotic human resource capacity, quality of care and research capacity not only in South Africa but Africa and developing nations.

“The anticipated outcomes of the Prosthetic and Orthotic Centre is to increase access to quality and affordable mobility devices regardless of socio-economic status, and geographical location. Furthermore, it will provide job opportunities for recent graduates.”

Ncedo says the training and education project is a jointly established program by the Provincial Department of Health (DOH) and the Walter Sisulu University, after the national DOH realised the shortage of orthotic professionals in the country as whole.

“Similarly, the proposed Prosthetic and Orthotic Centre is in line with the provincial, national and international WHO projects, after realising that only 1 in 10 have access to mobility assistive technology across globe, with the situation predicted to be worse among developing nations. Subsequently, in the recent World Health Assembly, WHO urged all member states to increase access to mobility assistive technology to all (WHO global disability Action Plan 2014-2021).”

Furthermore, the Prosthetic Centre supports the University with training activities such as work placement and fieldwork.

“The challenges we are currently facing are the limited number of [specialised professionals], and lack of further training in Masters level in Prosthetics and Orthotics. Another factor is lack of advanced teaching material and equipment. The University has planned to further recruit lecturers, and made consultation with schools abroad for staff exchange programs to improve our quality of training, while providing opportunities for local staff to acquire postgraduate training in Prosthetics and Orthotics.”

Ncedo's with students at the Walter Sisulu University.

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