Transkei is the most populated region in the Eastern Cape, yet it is one of the least serviced in terms of mobility assistive technology. Most areas are characterized by rural dwellings and townships which is an additional barrier to access to medical services.
According to Therina Wentzel-Du Toit, Director of National Council of People with Disabilities (NCPD)South Africa’s unemployment rate among disabled people is 68% and statistics from the Department of Education revealed that 70% of children with disabilities at school-going age were not attending school.
Orthotist & Prosthetist, Ncedo Ludada was taken back by these statistics and knew that something had to change so he decided to upskill himself in Australia and when he returned, he lectured at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha and eventually opened his business. Ludada and Associates Orthopedic Services was established in 2016 to improve the quality of life of people living with disabilities in Mthatha.
He noted three areas which needed improvement during his tenure at a government hospital in East London:
1. Most people living with physical impairments in rural areas did not have access to mobility assistive devices because all functional prosthetic and orthotic service centres in the Eastern Cape were at hospitals in the big cities of East London and Port Elizabeth. Patients had to travel 200km to get help.
2. Because of high demand for these services, approved candidates had to wait 3-5 years for a prosthetic device.
3. The quality of service and mobility assistive devices was poor. The entire rehab process was not improving the mobility of the disabled person and their quality of life. Some patients would reject poorly-made devices, claiming that they were more crippling than enabling.
“This business is about so much more than making money for me; it’s given me a deep sense of meaning and purpose. When one of my clients told us that we gave him his life back when we fitted his prosthetic leg, and when I see a 65-year-old woman become mobile and resume her position in the community because we made her a prosthetic limb, I realized we are in the business of hope. Hope that life is waiting to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest.”
Future plans include partnering with the Eastern Cape Department of Health to manufacture quality and affordable prosthetics and concluding a memorandum of understanding to provide Walter University students with practical expertise in this field.