New Straits Times
Saturday, March 6, 1999

Sultan Opens Rehab Centre in Bercham

By V. Sivaji

THE Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah officiated at the opening ceremony of the Sultan Azlan Shah Rehabilitation Centre in Bercham recently.

"I am happy to note that such programmes have not only benefited people with physical disabilities in Perak but also those outside the State," he said in his message carried in the souvenir programme to mark the opening.

He also praised those involved for sharing their expertise in imparting community based rehabilitation programmes to welfare groups in other parts of the country.

The centre located on an eight-acre site donated by the State Givernment costs RM 2 million.

Yayasan Sultan Idris Shah Foundation, a non-profit organisation established in 1982, funds the cost of running the centre.

Sultan Azlan Shah said with the hardcore poor being almost eradicated in the State, efforts were being made to alleviate the plight of people with physical disabilities.

Also present at the event was the Canadian high Commissioner Andre S. Simard, who has been supportive of the centre's activities.

Sultan Azlan Shah also noted that the centre provided rehabilitation skills and proficiency training for primary level caregivers working with about 350 voluntary welfare organizations all over the country.

"I am informed that a pilot training course for basic CBR skills designed by international experts was conducted last year," he said. The official course is expected to be implemented next month.

Chairman of the centre Tan Sri V. Jeyaratnam said the centre was first located in a dilapidated building with just a handful of disabled persons to care for.

Today, the centre engages volunteer professional occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists and social workers from New Zealand, England, Germany, Japan and India.

"The Foundation has made great strides in the rehabilitation scene and with the co-operation of local community members, has set up 12 centres including the main centre in Bercham," Jeyaratnam said.

"Among the advantages of establishing widely spread CBR centres throughout the Perak are the disabled persons in remote areas, especially children from poor families, have easy access to the nearest centre in order to receive necessary treatment.

" The Foundation has also an additional support network for the disabled such as Spinal Wheelers Club, whose members being wheelchair-bound are trained to overcome their frustration of limited mobility and the Special Bikers Club, for people with mobility disabilities who use specially modified motorcycles for transportation.

"The Foundation has a proud record of having provided free rehabilitation services to more than 3,000 disabled people mainly children," he said.