On 9 March the ICRC and representatives of the Georgian Ministry of Health and Social Affairs awarded international certificates of professional competence to eight Georgian prosthetic/orthotic technicians.
Their training course began in February 1998 and culminated on 25 February 2000 with an examination leading to the certificate of proficiency in lower-limb prosthetics and orthotic devices. François Bellon, head of the ICRC delegation in Tbilisi, explained: "The best students will continue their training for another year to obtain the final ISPO [International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics] diploma. The idea is to have the programme entirely run and staffed by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs by 2002".
In partnership with the Ministry, the ICRC has been conducting a physical rehabilitation project for the war-disabled in Georgia since November 1994. To date the project, located in the Tbilisi Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, has registered 2,157 patients and assisted 1,582 disabled people, fitting 1,931 prostheses and 454 orthotic appliances and supplying 1,060 pairs of crutches and 118 wheelchairs. A similar project is being run in Gagra (Abkhazia) for people disabled as a result of the hostilities and also for diabetic patients who have had limbs amputated.
Further information: Suzanne Berger, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++ 4122 730 2307