29 December 2012

Zambia: A Befitting Christmas Present to Florence Katete

FLORENCE Katete lies down still confined to her scientific bed in her Hillcrest home of Ndola.

It has not always been this way.

It has been close to two years since she has been in that sprawling condition. A few metres from her bed, is a television set to give her some entertainment and current affairs updates.

Right on the wall is a handwritten Merry Christmas note from one of her three sons, wishing her well and praying that someday she gets back on her feet again; a prayer of love and empathy indeed. Yes, words do matter, especially words of love.

On April 27th 2011, she suffered a spinal injury leading to quadriplegia (paralysis from neck downwards) following a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) which occurred in Kitwe while she was on a tour of duty.

Since the occurrence of the RTA, Mrs Katete has been admitted to various hospitals within the country.

These hospitals include Wusakile Mine Hospital, Zambian-Italian Orthopaedic Hospital, Fairview Hospital and lastly Ndola Central Hospital.

After being discharged from Ndola Central Hospital, she has continued receiving out-patient medical treatment through her employer which the Board refunds to the tune of 100 per cent.

To date the Board has refunded her employer Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) more than K300, 000 000.00 in medical treatment bills. The WCFCB is a social security scheme responsible for compensating workers in respect of accidents suffered and diseases contracted during the course of employment in accordance with the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act No. 10 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia.

Contribution to the Workers' Compensation Fund is entirely the employer's liability based on the declared earnings of their employees, assessed risks of the work place, cost of compensation payable and requirements of the Fund. Contribution rates, known as assessments, are derived from workers' earnings from enterprises.

Since the accident was reported and accepted, the Board has been involved in procuring various surgical items, paying for her medical and physiotherapy treatment, supply of an airbag mattress to mitigate against pressure sores common known as bed sores and most recently importation of a full recliner motorized wheelchair from Thailand to ease her mobility.

The cost of one airbag mattress is roughly K10 million while a full recliner motorized wheelchair costs about K35million.

On Christmas Eve, she had a pleasant surprise! WCFCB commissioner Elizabeth-Lungu Nkumbula led her team and brought a motorised wheel chair to ease her mobility.

She has been using a manual wheelchair all along until now. She would just need to turn her finger around a joystick controller on the handle to get moving.

A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks are also used for controlling machines such as cranes, trucks, underwater unmanned vehicles, wheelchairs, surveillance cameras and zero turning radius lawn mowers.

Miniature finger-operated joysticks have been adopted as input devices for smaller electronic equipment such electrical wheel chairs.

With the help of a physiotherapist, sooner or later she would learn the ropes.

"Merry Christmas to you," exclaimed Dr Lungu-Nkumbula the moment she met Mrs Katete with her team.

Dr Nkumbula also announced that the door to the house would be paved to make it user friendly. When the doorway is paved, the motorized wheelchair would easily move without difficulties. It means, Mrs Katete would be able to get outside and spend some time in the yard.

A motorized wheelchair or electric-powered wheelchair (EPW) is a wheelchair that is propelled by means of an electric motor rather than manual power. Motorized wheelchairs are useful for those unable to propel a manual wheelchair or who may need to use a wheelchair for distances or over terrain which would be fatiguing in a manual wheelchair. They may also be used not just by people with 'traditional' mobility impairments, but also by people with cardiovascular and fatigue based conditions.

Mrs Katete's wheel-chair was procured from Thailand and it is hoped that her mobility would be eased.

Further, motorized wheelchairs are generally prescribed for use by users who are unable to use a manual wheelchair. They may be designed for indoor or out-door or indoor use.

It is a best form of movement for disabled people and these days many companies are busy manufacturing electric wheelchairs in order to make the movement of disabled people effortless and comfortable.

The motorised wheelchair is a generally four-wheeled or six-wheeled and non-folding, however some folding designs exist and other designs may have some ability to partially dismantle for transit. Mrs Katete's is four wheeled.

"We have started offering new products to our clients as part of our rebranding process," said WCFCB public relations manager Maybin Nkolomba.

This is part of the medical aid.

As Mrs Katete, who is married with three children is pleased that her new wheelchair will ease her mobility.

"I am very grateful. It is part of the benefits that Workers Compensation offers," she said.

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