Goto main content

3D printing innovation restores hope in Uganda: Hakim's story


Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is using telemedicine and 3D printing to provide physical rehabilitation services for refugees in Uganda. This work not only helps to improve people's mobility, but it gives them the ability to regain independence and restores hope.

Hakim during the fitting of his 3D printed orthosis in Omugo settlement, Uganda

Hakim during the fitting of his 3D printed orthosis in Omugo settlement, Uganda | © HI 2020

Hakim had lost all hope

When a member of Humanity & Inclusion's (HI's) psychosocial support team first met Hakim, he did not have a positive outlook on his life:

“With these impairments, I cannot take care of myself, I cannot bath, I cannot participate in meetings, I cannot visit friends.”

Hakim lives in a refugee settlement in northern Uganda where accessing basic services and information can be very difficult for people with disabilities. HI has been working in the settlements since 2017 and provides different kinds of support to improve people's quality of life.

Months of hard work with Humanity & Inclusion

Hakim and his family received support frrom a physiotherapist and a psychosocial worker. Together, they worked on physical exercises to help improve his mobility and independence. Both Hakim and his carers received counselling to relieve the stress and anxiety felt by the whole family. 

Four months of hard work saw a steady improvement in Hakim’s ability to move around his home and his need for physical support from others reduced. However, he was still unable to walk more than a few steps and remained confined to his home. Hakim needed a lower leg support to progress further. This would usually require a long and expensive journey to a rehabilitation centre in the capital city. However, HI is using the very latest technology to provide these services in remote places.

A high-tech solution

Hakims leg was scanned not far from his home using a portable kit comprised of a tablet computer and a structure sensor. The 3D scan was remotely modified by an expert to generate a computer modified model of his made-to-measure splint. The splint was then produced by HI’s 3D printers in the nearest small town and brought back to Hakim by his physiotherapist.

Two 3D printers at HI's office in Arua, Uganda

 “My life has greatly changed ever since HI started working with me” says Hakim. "The orthosis has greatly improved my walking … I never imagined I would be able to walk for more than a kilometer! Now, I can go to the hospital on my own and I participate in community meetings - my voice is heard!” 

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 in 2020, HI’s 3D rehabilitation team has reached more than 82 people like Hakim in Uganda’s refugee settlements. Each indiviudal has their own story of restored independence and renewed hope. 

Date published: 16/02/21


Where we work

Read more

HI provides aid in 94 shelters in Gaza
© HI
Emergency Rehabilitation

HI provides aid in 94 shelters in Gaza

HI and partners have distributed aid to more than 3,500 people since October 7 in Gaza.

My first steps in five years
© HI

My first steps in five years

Abed lost both of his legs in a mine accident in 2018 in Syria. Access to HI rehabilitation services has changed his life.

Morocco earthquake: Survivors in need of shelter
© Bulent Kilic / AFP
Emergency Health Rehabilitation

Morocco earthquake: Survivors in need of shelter

Almost a week after the earthquake, the figures are alarming: more than 380,000 people have been affected by the disaster, including thousands who are homeless.