British Leprosy Relief Association
Evidence for the effectiveness of rehabilitation-in-the-community programmes
aEvaluation & Monitoring Network, The Leprosy Mission International, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
bThe Leprosy Mission Nigeria, Minna, Nigeria
cMunicipal Health Secretariat, Betim, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Correspondence to: J. P. Velema, Evaluation & Monitoring Network, The Leprosy Mission International, P.O. box 902, 7301 BD Apeldoorn, The Netherlands (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The present literature review identified 29 reports from 22 countries in Asia, Africa and Central America reporting on the outcomes of rehabilitation-in-the-community programmes in low and middle income countries published between 1987 and 2007. Interventions included home visits by trained community workers who taught disabled persons skills to carry out activities of daily living, encouraged disabled children to go to school, helped find employment or an income generating activity, often involving vocational training and/or micro-credit. Many programmes had a component of influencing community attitudes towards disabled persons. The information collected shows that such programmes were effective in that they increased independence, mobility and communication skills of disabled persons, helped parents of disabled children to cope better and increased the number of disabled children attending schools. Economic interventions effectively increased the income of disabled persons although they rarely made them financially independent. CBR activities result in social processes that change the way community members view persons with disabilities, increase their level of acceptance and social inclusion and mobilise resources to meet their needs.
In most countries, coverage of CBR programmes is inadequate. CBR initiatives appear most beneficial to those who have mild physical disability and can communicate verbally. There is a need to invest in the generation of quality evidence about the outcome and impact of rehabilitation-in-the-community programmes to ensure its continued support.