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Improved quality for prosthetics


A police officer tries to bring order to the chaos, but the effect on the busy traffic is minimal. Tuktuks, mopeds, pedestrians, taxis and buses cross each other's paths. Sri Lanka has a high percentage of road traffic victims. It is also a country that has known civil war. The conflict between the Tamils ​​and the Sinhalese did not end until 2009. Nowadays, as a remnant of this war, various landmines can still be found in Sri Lanka, causing fatalities or injuries when stepped on. 

Since its founding ten years ago, Aawas International has taught 3000 people to walk again and improved their quality of life by making prosthetics. Approximately 25 people work in this rehabilitation centre including doctors, physiotherapists, instrument makers, nurses and management. The company depends on funding and is managed in a Buddhist way by a passionate owner. Sri Lanka is one of the 10 main producers of rubber in the world. The company currently works mainly with this local raw material. However, synthetic material is also used, but the quality lacks behind. For example, the final product shows colour differences between the foot and lower leg. 

"Solving these points of improvement will have a major impact on the quality of the prosthetics " 

PUM expert Klaas Eijgelaar: “In preparation for this advisory mission, I gained a lot of experience in rehabilitation centres and prosthetic workshops in the Netherlands. Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, it turned out that the method of manufacturing the prosthetics made with synthetic material was done in a traditional way and could be done more efficiently. That is why I made a number of recommendations for working more consistently and cleaner (better quality) and less wasteful (more precise). I always bring a simple infrared thermometer as a gift, very useful in plastic processing for a more constant process. 

I also used video clips to show how synthetic material can best be used in the production process. Solving these points for improvement will have a major impact on the quality of the prosthetics. In preparation for this advisory mission, a rehabilitation centre in Enschede offered equipment; their vacuum pumps are now on their way to the customer and will positively influence the processing of plastics and the quality of the prosthetics! 

Working conditions 

In addition to practical recommendations on the use of synthetic material for the manufacturing of prosthetics, I have also made suggestions to improve the working conditions for the staff. Such as the extraction of dust and sawdust and the use of protective gloves and the wearing of hearing protectors." 

‘No air conditioning, no mosquito nets on the windows, only cold water’

Klaas looks back on his advisory mission with mixed feelings. “The working conditions were tough. I had a room in the rehabilitation centre, without air conditioning, without mosquito nets on the windows and with only cold water. Unfortunately, the poor hygienic conditions in the kitchen of the rehabilitation centre meant that I became ill. That was the less pretty side of this advisory mission. However, I have rarely seen so many happy positive people. Patients are taught in 1-2 weeks to learn how to walk with their prosthetics. They stay at the facility and you see them daily, sometimes crying in pain, but afterwards so happy with their prosthetics. 

Klaas Eijgelaar (72): is a chemical technical engineer and has worked with synthetic materials for around 40 years at home and abroad. Immediately after his retirement in 2009, he registered as an expert at PUM. He has done advisory missions in Zambia, Ghana, Egypt, Kosovo, Thailand, Macedonia, India, Peru, South Africa and recently Sri Lanka. “I love helping these companies, making them work more systematically and seeing results. I also get satisfaction from contact with people, experiencing other cultures. As a gift I promised to send two used vacuumpump systems to the company, provided by Roessingh Revalidation Techniek in Holland. These vacuumpump systems have been delivered recently to Aawas International by PUM's country coordinator for Sri Lanka Edith van der Spruit.'


Text: Gabrielle ten Bokkel Huinink

Photography: Klaas Eijgelaar / Pixabay