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Jaipur Foot Takes Off for Lebanon

The Jaipur Foot - artificial legs made in Rajasthan - is all set to travel to war-hit Lebanon and Sri Lanka to aid amputees there.//

Experts from the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti (BMVSS) will travel to the Middle East on the invitation of the Indian contingent of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, BMVSS general secretary S.R. Mehta said.

The team would open a camp in Lebanon April 14 to 25. Five technicians would accompany the team to fit the artificial limb on survivors of Israeli and other bombings.

Mehta told IANS that 100 people have been identified for the fitting. "After Lebanon, we propose to go to Colombo."

BMVSS had organised a 15-day camp in Jakarta in February that saw 350 people fitted with the Jaipur Foot.

"These were people who had lost their limbs to diseases or mishaps. There were some who had lost it in the tsunami," Mehta said. "Besides Jakarta, we have held camps in Sudan, Afghanistan and parts of Latin America."

A Jaipur resident, Ram Charan Sharma, who hailed from a family of sculptors, conceived of the Jaipur Foot in 1968. With the assistance of orthopaedic surgeon P.K. Sethi, the Jaipur Foot was launched in 1968.

The artificial foot - made of rubber, wood and aluminium - is attached free of cost in the premises of the BMVSS, which was established in 1975 here.

From 1968 to 1975, only 59 patients were outfitted with the Jaipur Foot. But the use of the new limb spread outside India during the Afghan war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross discovered that the Jaipur Foot was the hardiest limb for the mountainous Afghan terrain. Since then, countless landmine victims in many countries have been fitted with the Jaipur Foot.

The beauty of the Jaipur foot lies in its lightness - those who wear it can run, climb trees and pedal bicycles - and its low price. While prosthesis for a similar level of amputation ca n cost several thousand dollars in the US, the Jaipur Foot costs only $20-28 in India.


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