A team of young engineers have developed bamboo wheelchairs to help support physically challenged individuals in the country.
The team have been working for the Bright Generation Community Foundation with technological support from the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative.
Ms Marjelle Scheffers, a Dutch Biomedical Engineer from the University of Delaware, and Mr Eric Asante, an Engineer with Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, turned the idea from a concept to a physical prototype.
According to them, it all began with Mr Solomon Owusu-Amankwaah and Ms Bernice Dapaah Chief Executive Officer who had brainstormed the possibility of extending the application of bamboo and creating an assistive device to support the many physically challenged in Ghana.
They explained that when they realised the severity of lack of accessibility to wheelchairs, the idea of using bamboo to make wheelchairs became more than just a passing thought.
Mr. Asante is said to have built a complex model in the middle of 2016, which had undergone testing by Rhonda, a Canadian Paralympic official, and Raphael, an internationally renowned Paralympic winner of several medals and founder of GoGet Them in Ghana.
Their expert suggestions helped to inform the mechanics of the successful prototype which became the star of the show in the just-ended international competition organised by the Greater Accra Wheelchair and Basketball Team.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 70 million people worldwide require wheelchairs.
However, only five to 15 per cent of these people have access. The WHO describes the wheelchair as more than an assistive device.
“It is the means by which they can exercise their human rights and achieve inclusion and equal participation. A wheelchair provides mobility, ensures better health and quality of life, and assists people with disabilities to live full and active lives in their communities,” it said.
However, the development of the bamboo wheelchair offers a sustainable solution to the lack of accessibility to appropriate wheelchairs, while also providing employment opportunities in Ghana.
Saturday, November 11, 2017 was an exciting day for the bamboo wheelchair team.
The team members, were invited to bring their bamboo wheelchair to Accra.
After their practice, the Greater Accra Wheelchair Basketball Team tested the bamboo wheelchair; they did their wheelies, and rode them.
Based on their feedback, the very first prototype is noted to have functioned safely and well.