To view a photo slideshow from Vietnam, go>.
CHAU DOC, Vietnam — Fifteen Mercer University students, led by Dr. Ha Van Vo, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Dr. Ramachandran Radharamanan, professor of industrial engineering, arrived in Vietnam on June 4. The group has begun its work of fitting and distributing Mercer-designed prosthetic legs and will continue through June 25.The group is one of seven Mercer On Mission ’09 teams and is providing the new low-cost prosthetic legs to amputees living in and around Ho Chi Minh City.
Mercer New Media Designer Rebecca Sandifer is traveling with the Mercer On Mission team in Vietnam and sent this photo of one of the first patients being fitted with a prosthetic.
The project is part of a three-year initiative by Mercer to provide amputees with low-cost prosthetics that can be fitted without having to be fully customized. Because amputees in developing countries cannot afford expensive customized prosthetics, they often must go without them. Mercer has developed a new form of inexpensive prosthetics, which do not require full customization. Designed by Mercer School of Engineering students, the prosthetics use a universal socket technology developed by Dr. Vo, a native of Vietnam. The group is also training local medical personnel to adapt the prosthetics to fit individual amputees. Eventually, Mercer will expand the program to Thailand and India.
In February, the Clinton Global Initiative University – a program of the William J. Clinton Foundation – recognized Mercer’s project “as an exemplary approach to addressing a specific global challenge” during the organization’s annual conference in Austin, Texas. The University’s Mercer On Mission project was one of only four “commitments” by universities around the country to be recognized by former President Bill Clinton during the conference’s opening plenary session.
The project is addressing a worldwide problem, which is particularly acute in Vietnam. More than 2,000 Vietnamese are injured each year by land mines and unexploded bombs left during the Vietnam War. An estimated 100,000 amputees live in Vietnam today, and there are more than 18 million amputees around the world, with more than 80 percent of those living in developing countries.
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