During the Vietnam War, the conflict spilled over into Laos in a secret war leaving it one of the most heavily bombed countries in history. Many of these bombs and other devices did not explode at the time. So, even though the war ended in 1975, the country is still littered with a significant amount of UXO's (unexploded ordnance) which also contributes to poverty, hunger and disability on a daily basis.
It is difficult to say with certainty how many people in Laos are affected by disability from UXO's and for other reasons in some way. Remote villages, poor infrastructure and inaccessibility contribute to people with disability being a disadvantaged group within an extremely poor society.
Hence the need to provide.
COPE stands for Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise and we provide prosthetics and mobility devices for those people who require them, free of charge if they cannot afford to pay for them. We also supply Information to people about services available, training and support to local staff to provide a high quality service, and assistance in developing longer term strategies for sustainability so that the service will always be here!
COPE is the only provider of prosthetic, orthotic and rehabilitation services in Laos. Established by POWER International in 1997, COPE is a joint venture between the Ministry of Health and a number of NGOs (Non-government organisations). In the future the plan is for COPE to become a Lao organisation in its own right. All of COPE's administration is done from Vientiane with independent auditing by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.