2015 ASCoN Conference: The 2nd P is for Policy

An important objective of the annual ASCoN Conference is to use the event as a platform to inform the design and establishment of national SCI policy and guidelines that can frame and support the establishment of comprehensive rehabilitation services for people with SCI.  This year’s conference in Kathmandu was no exception.
We got off to a flying start when the President of Nepal, H.E Bidhya Devi Bhandari called on the ASCoN members to provide the Ministry of Health and Population with recommendations with regard to the development of rehabilitation services in Nepal.
The focus of the conference was ‘Quality of Life and Inclusion after Spinal Cord Injury’, and included a Policy Workshop held on the afternoon of day 1.

Why have this workshop at all?  The programme outlined the context behind this workshop rather well:   “The Disability Unit – Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) with support from WHO, is leading a process to develop a MoHP National Injury and Rehabilitation long term strategy and action plan. This is an ongoing process but already it is apparent that there is a great need to increase bed capacity and establish injury and rehabilitation centres/units particularly beyond Kathmandu Valley. It is recognized however that services need to be developed in a coordinated and structured manner to ensure long term sustainability and quality whilst utilizing most effectively and efficiently available resources.

 MoHP and SIRC have been in discussions since 2014 on how to increase the quality and national coverage of essential injury and rehabilitation services in a structured and sustainable way. The conclusion was that as a starting point the goal should be the development of a specific Policy and Guideline relating to the design, establishment and standardized operation of rehabilitation service facilities at a National, Provincial and District level.

 This workshop will contribute to this goal and will provide a platform for stakeholders from MoHP, NGOs, INGOs and regional/international experts to discuss and further this important piece of work.”

For full details on the programme for the Policy workshop, please see ASCoN Policy Workshop.

Dr. Basudev Pandey is the Director of the Disability Unit – Leprosy Control Unit, Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP).  Dr. Pandey led this important workshop.

In his opening remarks, he briefed the participants on the ongoing process to develop a 10-year injury and rehabilitation national strategy and action plan for Nepal and confirmed the development of specialized rehabilitation services should be an integral part of this.

With this direction, representatives from Malaysia, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia presented experiences and scenarios from their respective countries on such policies. Much discussion ensued among the participants.  A set of recommendations were defined for consideration.

Dr. Katrina Collins, Research Psychologist and Evaluator from Northern Ireland is in the process of compiling the outcomes of this historic workshop and will submit to the ASCoN Executive in the coming weeks.

Following a request from Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population, the ASCoN Executive plans to submit their finalized recommendations to the MoHP, thereby progressing the design, establishment and standardized operation of rehabilitation service facilities at a National, Provincial and District level in Nepal.

An historic moment for Nepal, that’s for sure.  And a proud moment for SIRC as the MoHP’s partner in defining rehabilitation services for Nepal.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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