Project RENEW established a mobile outreach program to provide prostheses, orthotics and education to explosive remnants of war survivors in the remote communities of Vietnam.
According to a 2014 report compiled by Vietnam’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Quang Tri province currently has 37,292 persons with disabilities, 13,023 of whom were disabled by Agent Orange and 5,094 by explosive remnants of war (ERW).1,2,3 Disabled persons living in rural areas often live in poverty and do not have access to basic services. For those with injuries resulting from unexploded ordnance (UXO), prosthetics are difficult to obtain.
In 2008, Project RENEW implemented its Prosthetics and Orthotics (P&O) Mobile Outreach Program to assist persons with disabilities as well as those injured from Agent Orange. Quang Tri province has more than 613,000 residents; 71 percent of the total population lives in rural and mountainous areas on both sides of the former demilitarized zone (DMZ).4 During the Vietnam-American War, Quang Tri was one of the most heavily bombed and shelled areas in the history of warfare with 83.8 percent of all land contaminated with UXO, landmines and cluster munitions.5 Since 1975, ERW accidents have caused 8,516 casualties (3,422 deaths).3 Quang Tri province was also heavily affected by Agent Orange during the Vietnam-American War.6According to the Quang Tri Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, Agent Orange/Dioxin has infected and caused disabilities in 15,485 people in the province.2
Project RENEW’s P&O Mobile Outreach Program delivers rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities, spending an average of four days per month in the most remote and poorest communities. The team travels in a van equipped with tools and equipment necessary to conduct on-site examinations to cast, fit and adjust custom prostheses, ensuring amputees and other mobility-impaired children and adults can function comfortably with basic quality and low-cost prostheses and assistive devices. The average price for a prosthesis is US$280, the lowest price for the most basic prosthesis available in the region. Comparatively, the general price for a basic prosthetic leg is $10,000 in developed countries.7
By August 2015, RENEW’s P&O program examined about 1,000 ERW survivors who lost limbs in Quang Tri, providing them with artificial limbs and other assistive devices. For persons with disabilities, these prostheses restore dignity, self-reliance, productivity and the ability to contribute to society. Initially, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-founded this program, which is now supported by funding from American veterans, private donors and the “Friends of Project RENEW” account. The program is unable to operate on a full-time basis, subject to availability of funds, with some discontinuation for the successful P&O operations due to funding termination. In addition, Project RENEW’s P&O program worked with the Quang Tri Department of Health to organize 27 training sessions on community-based rehabilitation for 540 P&O beneficiaries and local health staff to teach those with amputations about physical therapy, proper care of stumps and how to use prostheses for optimum mobility. The training aims to help participants network confidently, recommend follow-up support and special assistance, and inform Project RENEW staff when beneficiaries have problems with their prostheses.
In addition to providing artificial limbs to ERW survivors and persons with disabilities, Project RENEW plans to assist Quang Tri Provincial General Hospital in reactivating the Prosthetic Workshop, which could not provide P&O support to survivors over recent years due to lack of human resources. Project RENEW will accomplish this with funding donated to the “Friends of Project RENEW” account to send two new staff to the Prosthetic Workshop for 12 months of training from October 2015 to September 2016 at the Vietnamese Training Centre for Orthopedic Technologies School in Hanoi, the only school providing orthopedic training to technical staff throughout Vietnam. Upon completion of training, the rehabilitation facility will host three technicians to serve ERW survivors and persons with disabilities in need of prostheses and will serve as a logistic center for P&O operations in Quang Tri and neighboring provinces.
Toan Quang Dang is the mine and cluster victim-assistance program manager of Project RENEW. He was the authorized representative of the Norwegian Tromsø Mine Victim Resource Centre in Norway from 2011 to 2013 and currently serves as the liaison between Project RENEW and Mines Action Canada for the internship program. He formulates victim-assistance proposals organizes cultural exchange events between international friends and local youth. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Vietnam’s National Academy of Public Administration.
Toan Quang Dang
Mine and Cluster Victim Assistance Program
Project RENEW Coordination Office
Kids First Village
Alley 185 Ly Thuong Kiet Street
Dong Ha City, Quang Tri / Vietnam
Mobile: +84 905 129 789
- Quang Tri DOLISA Report on People with Disabilities and UXO victims in Quang Tri Province. September 2014.
- The report of Quang Tri Provincial Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin dated Dec. 22, 2006.
- “Facts and Figures: By Province, Quang Tri Province.” UXO Victim Data Section, Quang Tri Province Legacy of War Coordination Center – Database Unit (LWCC/DBU). Accessed 31 August 2015. http://bit.ly/1JH2pmv.
- Quang Tri Statistical Yearbook 2013.
- Report on Vietnam Unexploded Ordnance and Landmine Impact Assessment and Rapid Technical Survey by the Technology Centre for Bomb and Mine Disposal (BOMICEN) of the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), 2009.
- Bailey, Charles R. “Declaration and Plan of Action, U.S. – Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin.” The Aspen Institute. Accessed 31 August 2015. http://bit.ly/1KXbiJO.
- “Prosthetic Leg Cost: How Much Does a Prosthetic Leg Cost?” Cost Helper Health. Accessed 20 August 2015.http://bit.ly/1Llxa4e.
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