Friday, May 18, 2007

Oh, no, we can't work together to help the halt and lame...

I came across this article courtesy of Dr. H trying to get me started. It worked. It seems that the Free Wheelchair Mission has been making wheelchairs (W/C's) that they gave to distribute in Iraq. Nice gesture: 2000 W/C's in all. One would think that this would be supported by all.

But nooo! "Mark Krizack, director of operations at San Francisco State University's Whirlwind Wheelchairs International, calls Schoendorfer's design dangerous and adds that the wheelchair's imported parts aren't locally repairable."

Thanks, Mark. I guess those Iraqis would be better off crawling on their stumps if you had your way.

There's more. There was an International Consensus Conference on Wheelchairs for Developing Countries held last November, before this article appeared. It was rather well attended, with 86 participants, including the principals mentioned above.
· Wheelchairs should meet or exceed International Standards Organization (ISO) standards;
· Wheelchair riders should be able to choose their own wheelchairs;
· Wheelchair Riders should have a variety of wheelchair models from which to choose;
· Wheelchairs should be locally repairable
· A wheelchair should last for at least 5 years. (Many wheelchairs donated from the U.S. and Europe last from a few weeks to a year.)
The full text of the consensus is here.

It seems that both of the principals found enough common ground to argue from the same position, and both of them got slapped down by other W/C stakeholders.

ISO standards, though? What is better, more cheap W/C's, or fewer higher quality W/C's? I am reminded of the philosophical argument that it is better for cows to eat beef, because it causes more cows to come into existence, and it is better to live and die than to never live at all.

I think that it would be better to be in a cheap W/C than lying in bed developing decubitus ulcers or crawling in the fetid dust.

No comments: