The Community Outreach Program (COP) is a community-based rehabilitation program by the Physiotherapy department of OTC. The team goes out to the communities to see people with CVA, CP and other neurological problems which needs only physiotherapy. All other orthopedic problems they find are referred to the centre.
COP is an initiative by Ms Saki Shibata, a 28 year-old Japanese physiotherapist volunteer at OTC. Saki came to the centre through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer program. Her assignment was to see patients that come to OTC, and improve the quality of the skills of the physiotherapy department.
She realized after a while that people were not coming to clinic regularly, although she saw other people with conditions like Cerebral Palsy and children with clubfoot in the community. “These are conditions that OTC treats but the people in the community do not even come”, she wondered. Initially, she thought they had challenges with their finances so she did a survey and realized it was not all about money. The people had so many other reasons like religion, superstition, cultural believes and ignorance about the importance of consistent treatment in the management of a child’s condition.
This was the genesis of the OTC-COP. She joined the community nurse from the Notre Dame clinic, Sr. Esther SSND to visit communities close to the centre. They started with three communities, and there they discovered that there were four old patients who had stopped coming to the centre. the team also found a few new patients in on home visits. Saki treats the people in the community if they have neurological problem like CVA and Cerebral Palsy. Other than these, they are referred to the OTC outpatient clinic on Mondays.
According to Miss Saki, her aims for this initiative is to educate people in the community on their treatment plan; the condition of sickness and how to manage it; also how to exercise properly. Then again, find new cases who are not treated in the community, and finally bring patients back to mainstream clinic through education, counselling and treatment. Above all, she hopes the program helps in reducing stigma attached to disability in communities through community-based rehabilitation.
The community Outreach Program started about 18 months ago, and it has been very successful. As the number of communities has increased to five. People around the most visited areas are now a little conscious of the congenital deformities and we are receiving more positive response from the natives. We hope to extend to the remote parts of our municipal assembly, and save as many lives as possible.
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