By Richard Drasimaku
The number of cases of cerebral palsy (permanent tightening of muscles caused by damage to the brain before or during birth) in Arua district is increasing because of poor antenatal care and underage mothers, a health official has disclosed.
Jackson Oscar Dumba, a senior occupational therapist at Arua Hospital, last week said the hospital is overwhelmed by the number of patients who come from as far as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He said some cases are due to poor feeding by expectant mothers plus diseases such as malaria, which affect the foetus in the mother’s womb.
“In lower health centres, most of the health workers are ignorant about cerebral palsy. They confuse it with malaria and end up prescribing the wrong drugs,” Dumba said.
Because of the high number of children brought to the hospital, health workers use one child to demonstrate to other mothers how they should handle the patients while at home.
The mothers are given training on improving head balancing and reducing abnormal body movements of the children.
The hospital has only four specialist physiotherapists for the condition and this has been worsened by lack of equipment such as special seats, chairs, balloons and toys needed for the children’s therapy. This makes it hard for the hospital to handle the big number of patients.
Eve Aroga, 26, a resident of Terego-Alengo village in Pajulu sub-county, is the mother of an eight-month-old baby boy with the condition.
“Soon after birth, some people said my baby would die. For two hours, he couldn’t breathe or move the limbs,” she said.
Aroga said her clansmen started alleging that the baby’s condition was due to failure to pay dowry. Even after this was done, the baby’s condition never changed.
Aroga has been a regular visitor at the Arua Hospital physiotherapy room, where such children are taken through special body exercises and the parents counselled on how to deal with them.
She has mobilised mothers of babies with the condition in the area to form an association.