COPE was formed in 1997 by agreement between the Ministry of Health of Lao PDR and a group of non-Government organisations including POWER, World Vision and Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics.
COPE was created in response to the need to provide UXO survivors with the care and support they required, namely by way of orthotic and prosthetic devices.
COPE is now a local not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation (CMR) and provincial rehabilitation centres to provide access to both orthotic/prosthetic devices and rehabilitation services, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and paediatric services to people with disabilities.
COPE has four major roles:
- To act as a portal for skills development and training, upgrading clinical skills in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and P&O within the government rehabilitation services. This is extended to management and administrative skills to ensure that the capacity for COPE to run as a local organisation is sustainable.
- To support expenses of patients who are unable to pay for treatment and associated costs as well as upgrading facilities at the five centres currently supported by COPE.
- To act as an interface between the donor community and the Lao Government. International donors require a recognised standard of auditing and financial accountability for proposals to be successfully accepted and managed.
- To facilitate referral between the network of clinical services to provide comprehensive treatment of people living with mobility impairments, ensuring people with disabilities in Lao PDR will have access to the rehabilitation services that can improve their ability to participate in their communities.
The long-term vision of COPE is to become a locally-staffed organisation that covers the cost of mobility devices and rehabilitation for people in Lao PDR who cannot afford it.
While it takes a long time to train staff and develop infrastructure for quality services, we are making great steps to achieving these goals. The Prosthetic and Orthotic unit is now all locally staffed by well-trained technicians, an international physiotherapy mentor is currently training physiotherapy staff for the physiotherapy unit and an international occupational therapist is now working with us to develop the paediatric and adult occupational therapy departments.
All of our administration is done from the capital of Lao PDR, Vientiane, and is independently audited.