Specialists advise female athletes on prostheses

Cuba Orthopaedic technology company aims to promote know-how transfer

Latin America

People with physical disabilities are not adequately provided with prostheses and orthoses in Cuba because there are few qualified specialists and the workshops for orthopaedic technology are outdated. In the framework of the develoPPP programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ), Ottobock and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH committed to improving orthopaedic technology training and supply in the country. The medical technology company Ottobock has maintained trade relations with Cuba since 2014 and would like to further expand its activities there. The company focuses on holistic care: its innovative products are to be fitted at the recipients' homes by qualified specialists.

Almost 16,000 people in Cuba are living with amputations, for example as a result of accidents or diabetes; however, only 3,000 of these are currently fitted with prostheses and orthoses. The state-administered Centro Nacional de Ortopedia Técnica (CNOT) is responsible for technical orthopaedics and maintains around 40 care facilities throughout the country and employs approximately 450 orthopaedic technicians. These are usually inadequately trained and mostly work in outdated workshops. New recruits are rare in the country and have so far mostly been trained locally with existing materials and methods. In order to improve the standards of care, the project partners hope to qualify specialists and provide modern medical technology. Ottobock can thus offer professional, holistic care in Cuba and generate more demand for its own products. Since the approach goes beyond the mere distribution of components, Ottobock is able to strengthen its own market position in the long term.

In order to train orthopaedic technicians according to the latest standards and to equip CNOT workshops accordingly, the project partners implemented the following measures, among others, as part of the develoPPP project from 2016 to 2018; the total budget was approximately 410,000 euros:

  • 18-month advanced training in leg prosthetics according to international standards (ISPO II) for four CNOT specialists at the Ottobock International O&P School in Duderstadt.
  • Training in leg prosthetics and orthotics for 92 CNOT employees and lecturers at the Faculty of Health Technology (FATESA) of the Universidad Ciencias Médicas in Havana
  • Establishment of the new techniques as part of the training in the main workshop of the CNOT
  • Creation of a strategic modernisation plan for the nationwide orthopaedic technology workshops

Ottobock contributed its expertise in medical technology as part of the project, thus promoting the local transfer of know-how. GIZ supported the project financially.

Cuba is a country with long-term potential for us. We are able to open up a new market in Latin America through cooperation with GIZ. At the same time, together we are improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Marcelo Cuscuna, Regional President, Latin America Ottobock
Paralympics bronze medallist during training
Ottobock and Cuban orthopaedic experts support Cuban Paralympics bronze medallist. Copyright: Sven Creutzmann

Training and know-how transfer in the field of medical technology have significantly improved health care. For example, the CNOT has further developed technical orthopaedics based on the knowledge gained from the project. More prostheses and orthoses could be produced and delivered to patients. Because it was possible to train more specialists in the orthopaedic field, Ottobock is now able to use its medical technology products more in the country.

  • 92 orthopaedic technicians received further qualification
  • Long-term know-how transfer via the CNOT and the Universidad Ciencias Médicas
  • 30 percent increase in production in the field of orthotics and prosthetics at CNOT

Development successes

92 orthopaedic technicians further qualified

Medical technology expertise promotes local know-how transfer

Training on leg prosthetics and orthotics for local experts

Business successes

30 percent increase in production in the field of orthotics and prosthetics at CNOT

Market development in Latin America

Skilled worker training increases product use in the country

develoPPP Classic

develoPPP Classic is aimed at medium-sized and large companies that want to invest sustainably in a developing or emerging country and expand their operational activities locally. Suitable projects receive technical and financial support of up to two million euros in public funding.


Ottobock develops “wearable human bionics” – medical technology products for people with limited mobility in the fields of Prosthetics, Orthotics and Human Mobility (wheelchairs). The company, founded in 1919, also treats patients in its Patient Care division. Ottobock's mission: Enhancing the quality of life and health economic benefits of those they serve.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

As a German federal enterprise, GIZ has been a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work for more than 50 years. It supports the economic development and promotion of employment and develops strategies for sustainable business together with the private sector.

Dr. Berit Hamer Ottobock SE & Co. KGaA
Raphaela Zieger Project Manager develoPPP Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH