- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
Cerebral Palsy, a neurological disease that affects children before, during or after birth, has been identified as one of leading causes of disability among Kenyan children and adults.
“At the moment, cerebral palsy ranks among the leading causes of disability among children hence the need to rededicate efforts towards this neurological disorder through financing towards quality treatment and public awareness,” said Caroline Njuguna, the Aon Kenya Head of Marketing and Business Development at an event held to raise awarenwss o the disease in support of Cerebral Society of Kenya and Ongata Rongai Special Home and Training Center,
“The awareness about cerebral palsy is still low in the country despite the fact that it contributes 4.6 percent of disability among children and adults.”
In fact a study conducted by Orion Foundation and Breakthrough Consulting in late 2016, revealed that only 14 per cent of the general public interviewed were aware of Cerebral Palsy, with many people not aware of the availability of facilities that support cerebral palsy cases. Special schools were cited as the most available to parents of children with cerebral palsy.
Cases of cerebral palsy are thought to be higher in Africa compared to Europe or United states; higher incidence major contributors are birth asphyxia and neonatal infections. Further, there is a challenge of structured and consistent screening policy for developmental disabilities amongst infants and preschool children hence, many disabilities are unrecognized and lack appropriate intervention.
“Stigmatization is rife among children with disabilities and their families denying them the basics such as health care, education, socialization and recognition,” said George Kakala, Chairperson - Cerebral Society of Kenya.
The symptoms or the disease include physical impairment affecting one’s arms, eyes, face and legs, stiffness and weakness in the muscles uncontrolled body movements balance and co-ordination problems among others. The condition is incurable but treatment and therapy help manage effects on the body. It can make tasks such as walking or even sitting difficult for an individual
“The injury and damage to the brain is permanent. The brain does not “heal” as other parts of the body might. Because of this, the Cerebral Palsy itself will not change for better or worse during a person’s lifetime. On the other hand, associative conditions may improve or worsen over time,” said cerebralpalsy.org.
The best ways for a mother to prevent to ensure that her child does not get the disease is by attending prenatal care, “the mother needs to be well taken care of to avoid any complications during pregnancy,” said Rose Mureu, who is in charge of the cerebral palsy walk in the country.
“But not only during pregnancy also maternity services during and after birth should also be quality because even a bay’s fall can cause cerebral palsy. They should also get a doctor’s opinion before deciding the best type of child birth for them, women with a narrow cervix should consider a caesarean section.”