Disabled gets mobility

2019-03-20 06:02
Wheelchair recipient Luckyboy Khooane engages with Sam Mashini, MEC of Police, Roads and Transport, at the handover.Photo: Supplied

Wheelchair recipient Luckyboy Khooane engages with Sam Mashini, MEC of Police, Roads and Transport, at the handover.Photo: Supplied

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The Product Development Technology Station (PDTS), based at the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State in Bloemfontein has changed the life of double amputee Luckyboy Khooane for the better.

The manufacturing entrepreneurial entity has donated a wheelchair to Khooane, a Gr. 12 learner at the Kopanong Secondary School in Bloemfontein. The wheelchair was handed over to him at his home in Freedom Square on Friday (15/03).

The manufacturing entity comprises a group of engineers who are the brain behind the invention of innovative wheelchairs in aid of persons with physical disability.

The PDTS group has made it its mission to make sustainable and reliable wheelchairs as a solution to improve the mobility of persons with disability in rural areas and townships.

According to the PDTS, roughly 2,3% (1,2 million people) of South Africans need a wheelchair to function in society, while an estimated 1% of the world’s population (65 million people) need a wheelchair.

To get an understanding of what it would take to produce suitable wheelchairs, the group has been working with Schalk van der Merwe, who has been wheelchair-bound for 27 years. The work started two years ago.

Dan Maritz, CUT spokes­person, said the good news was that the PDTS group had just secured funding to put together a manufacturing process that allowed persons with disability to manufacture the wheelchairs.

“This will be a full-circle upliftment of a disabled community. For disabled by disabled, for South Africans by South Africans,” Maritz said.

He said the production of wheelchairs formed part of a larger initiative at the PDTS, the medical device accelerator.

“The aim of this initiative is to localise medical assistive device manufacturing to reduce the importing of expensive medical equipment and devices – medical devices designed and manufactured by Africans for Africa.

“The Product Development Technology Station’s medical device unit assists the deve­lopment of medical assistive devices in South Africa.

“The unit aims to fund and assist in the development of medical devices. The high cost of product development has hindered the manufacturing of medical devices in South Africa, thus resulting in high-volume importing of medical devices.

“The new programme aims to kick-start the development of medical devices, educate medical professionals in regards to medical product development and create a sustainable cycle of medical device manufacturing in South Africa,” said Maritz.

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