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The 2004 tsunami and disabled people

29 December 2009


From Gill Godber

Sir, — Thank you for highlighting the ongoing needs of those affected by the tsunami (Features, 18/25 December). In any disaster, it is those with disabilities who suffer its impact most.

Mike Davies, former Regional Director for South-East Asia and the Pacific of this charity, CBM UK (Christian Blind Mission), reported recently: “The CBM-funded psycho-social rehabilitation programme in the tsunami-ravaged Aceh province of Indonesia has so far unchained over one thousand people with schizophrenia, and got them back into productive roles in their communities. People with schizo­phrenia are often chained up by their families, to prevent them wander­ing around and getting abused by other people.”

CBM support includes the train­ing of community-health nurses, and providing them with motor­cycles so that they can cover greater areas and serve more people. Today, five years after the tsunami, CBM is one of the few international agencies still active in Aceh, because the process of psycho-social rehabilita­tion is long-term in its nature. It is expected that the local government will have taken over full responsibil­ity for the programme in a few years.

The Indonesian government has been pressing CBM to help it to introduce the Aceh model of community mental health into other parts of the country — the fourth most populous nation on earth.

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