Kwale County has in the recent past seen an increase of epileptic cases based on an awareness campaign of this dangerous decease. Unfortunately the number of therapists dealing with the affected people remains to be low.
This is in spite of the Kwale County assembly passing a motion on May that compelled all government hospitals to have a special wing that will be catering for epileptic patients.
Speaking at Diani Center for Children with Cerebral Palsy (DCCCP), a health center that started in 2011 with 35 patients, the Msambweni Sub County occupational therapist officer Mr. Sanga Kabuka said that the work is now overwhelming.
“Am supposed to see 6 children from Likoni till Lungalunga and Kwale per day but now am handling 20 epileptic cases “
The patients include new born, outpatients and those on occupational therapy. “We have started establishing a data bank and so far 400 are totally disable. We treat them freely but if equipment is needed we tell parents to buy them,” said Kabuka who operates from Msambweni referral hospital.
The heavy increase of patient numbers is coming from intensive campaigns through chiefs’ offices, schools, health workers and politicians.
The Diani Center for Children with Cerebral Palsy (DCCCP) is a nonprofit community organization which was established by one of the patient parents Mr. Elias Kimaru. The Center is offering outreach therapy sessions where experts work on training the muscles of the disable children and at the same time giving an opportunity to share experiences which is geared towards abolishing stigma. The DCCCP works with children from one month to ten years – able parents have to pay Sh150 per visit.
“We are facing an acute shortage of therapists and on the other hand recognizing that many parents are too poor to pay the little fee” said Kimaru.
Mrs. Christine Mwaka Mvurya a community health officer with Base Titanium mining company also supports the center. She claimed that most parents have associated the sickness with witchcraft and feeling shy to visit a doctor. “We are currently working with 15 villages to create awareness and we want to assist the center with equipment to assist the ongoing therapy ”
Some Information about Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a child’s birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child’s life. The brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy can also lead to other health issues, including vision, hearing, and speech problems, and learning disabilities. There is no cure for CP, but treatment, therapy, special equipment, and, in some cases, surgery can help a child who is living with the condition.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
The exact causes of most cases of CP are unknown, but many are the result of problems during pregnancy in which the brain is either damaged or doesn’t develop normally. This can be due to infections, maternal health problems, a genetic disorder, or something else that interferes with normal brain development. Problems during labor and delivery can cause CP in some cases. but this is the exception. Premature babies — particularly those who weigh less than 3.3 pounds (1,510 grams) — have a higher risk of CP than babies that are carried full-term, as are other low birth weight babies and multiple births, such as twins and triplets. Brain damage in infancy or early childhood can also lead to CP. A baby or toddler might suffer this damage because of lead poisoning, bacterial meningitis, malnutrition, being shaken as an infant (shaken baby syndrome), or being in a car accident while not properly restrained.
Preventing Cerebral Palsy
In many cases the causes of CP are unknown, so there’s no way to prevent it. But if you’re having a baby, you can take steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy and carry the baby to term, thus lowering the risk that your baby will have CP. Before becoming pregnant, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and make sure that any medical problems are managed properly. As soon as you know you’re pregnant, proper prenatal medical care (including prenatal vitamins and avoiding alcohol and illegal drugs) is vital. If you are taking any medications, review these with your doctor and clarify if there are any side effects that can cause birth defects. Controlling diabetes, anemia, hypertension, seizures, and nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can help prevent some premature births and, as a result, some cases of cerebral palsy.
Once your baby is born there are actions you can take to lower the risk of brain damage, which could lead to CP. Never shake an infant, as this can lead to shaken baby syndrome and brain damage. If you’re riding in a car, make sure your baby is properly strapped into an infant car seat that’s correctly installed — if an accident occurs, the baby will be as protected as possible. Be aware of lead exposure in your house, as lead poisoning can lead to brain damage. Remember to have your child get his or her immunizations on time — these shots protect against serious infections, some of which can cause brain damage resulting in CP.