Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Just spotted this story on the Reuters newswire.

It may raise a smirk but in fact it raises a very serious issue.

As I found in Cambodia in November, most Cambodian amputees have woefully primitive artificial limbs -- if they have them at all. I often felt ashamed and embarrassed comparing my state-of-the-art prosthesis with those worn by most Cambodians -- and reported on it for the Today programme at the time.

(Read more about one charity's rehab efforts for Cambodian amputees here.)

Cambodia blames old legs for shaky Games showing

PHNOM PENH, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Cambodia's disabled athletes are blaming their relatively poor showing at a recent regional paralympic games on old and outdated artificial legs.

The deeply impoverished nation's team of 13 men and two women won 10 medals at the Second ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Para Games in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi last month.

However, the squad was disappointed to fall short of the 13 medals, including six golds, notched up at the inaugural Para Games in Malaysia in 2001.

"We earned fewer medals because the athletes used more than three-year-old artificial legs," Yi Veasna, head of the National Paralympic Committee, was quoted as saying in the Cambodia Daily newspaper.

Despite contributions from Cambodia's revered King Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen, athletes had to make do with old legs worth only $1,000, compared to modern $8,000-limbs for competitors from neighbouring countries, he said.

Cambodia, which is slowly emerging from decades of civil war including the 1970s Khmer Rouge genocide, is still littered with landmines and unexploded bombs, leaving it with one of the world's highest disability rates.


Post a Comment

<< Home