Centre for the handicapped inaugurated in northeast

A physiotherapy centre for the physically challenged has been inaugurated in Dekoa, a town 259 km northeast of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, state-owned Radio Centrafrique reported on Tuesday.

Social Affairs Minister Lea Doumta inaugurated the 12.7-million-franc CFA (US $24,660) centre on Monday, which also has a section for hospitalisation. She said 48 handicapped people were receiving treatment at the facility.

Handicap International, the European Community and the French government financed the centre - which will also serve the towns of Sibut and Damara, respectively 70 km and 170 km south of Dekoua - and be able to fit patients with prostheses. However, Doumta said the centre was facing an acute shortage of personnel although help was expected.

"Surgeons will be coming from France once a year," she said, in addition to more medical staff from the CAR capital, Bangui. A similar facility has been built and equipped in Bangui, and funded by the same donors. Doumta said more centres were needed because 10 percent of the country's 3.5 million people were handicapped, mostly as a result of polio.