By Alex Gahima
The number of children in Western Uganda, living with physical and neurological disabilities is on the rise, with many of them likely to die due to lack of access to specialized treatment.
The revelation was made by Syson Taremwa, a physiotherapist working at Ruharo Mission Hospital, under Organized Useful Rehabilitation Services (OURS)
According to Taremwa, more than 3000 reviews of children with disabilities are handled at the hospital annually.
He further notes that many more cases in the communities go unnoticed because Parents lack information and lack enough funds to visit specialized treatment centers that can help the children.
Under the OURS project, Physiotherapists engage in outreaches to offer families information as well as medication for children with disabilities.
While at Potters’ Village, in Kisoro Municipality, Taremwa noted that during the lockdown, many cases were lost because it was literally impossible to do follow ups.
“During the lockdown, there was generally too much darkness because we were unable to do follow ups during lockdown, so some children’s progress really regressed while others died because they was no way to reach them”, Taremwa explained
The most common conditions among children include Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus and Down syndrome among others.
Disability is not Inability, a statement that profoundly resonates however how many believe it?
Taremwa says, if these conditions are managed well, the children can grow up having meaningful and purposeful lives.
“It is so unfortunate that parents and even members of the community prefer to keep these children locked away because they believe it is the best way to protect them however, such actions cause permanent retardation, we need to allow these children to experience life, just like the rest of us”, Taremwa noted.
Inclusion vital for Survival of Children with Disability
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report of 2020, One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries.
One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.
Taremwa explained that Government efforts in raising awareness for the need for rehabilitation and creating safe spaces for children with Disabilities is still very low.
“Disability is when you realize you cannot do what other people are able to do therefore we need to make places more accessible by building ramps instead of stairs, ensuring at Zebra crossings, a sign with a wheel chair is visible, Government needs to increase funding towards rehabilitation services”, Taremwa noted
Potters’ Village Nursing officer and Physiotherapy assistant Judith Uwimana, says Mothers who had very low confident in the fate of their children have been encouraged when they bring the child for physiotherapy.
Uwimana says because of the misinformation about these conditions in the public, little children have been brought will cuts and bruises to their bodies, all in the name of fighting curses and witchcraft.
Uwimana further called on young mothers to always attend antenatal services as soon as conception has been realized so that access to folic acid and zinc are given to the mothers to prevent such abnormalities in the children.
Parents Speak out
Peace Niringiyimana, a resident of Nyarubuye Sub County says her 10 year old daughter suffers from Hydrocephalus. She says she took her daughter to Mbale for operation and now she visits Potters’ Village for rehabilitation.
Niringiyimana says her daughter who is now in top class loves to study and to play with others.
Annet and David from Nyarusiza say their precious daughter has under gone several surgeries on her back and on her head too.
The couple says it is very costly to manage their child’s condition but they are determined to love their baby girl.
David advised other men not to leave the full burden of taking care of the children because it is tiresome and very demanding but if a couple work together, the load is lessened.
A ray of Hope in a dark World
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Contact Taremwa Syson on 0777776605/ 0753975315
Judith Uwimana on 0770865375