By BILLY RWOTHUNGEYO, FRANK LUKWAGO, JANAT NAMULINDWA, ABU MWESIGWA AND PAUL MAYINJA
A toddler and its mother are over the moon with joy after a corrective surgery on a cleft lip at a private not for profit health facility; the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services in Uganda.
Baby born with defect
Instead of a smile lighting up the face of the 28 year old Namatovu Sophie upon her third birth last year, tears rolled down her desolate face.
The little one she had brought into the world had a physical condition; a cleft lip. “I cried as though the child I had given birth to was dead,” she said. “I was so terrified because I had never seen this condition before in my life, but the doctors at Mulago told me to remain strong.”
Then a few weeks back, Namatovu, a resident of Makindye division in Kampala, saw an advert about CoRSU on Bukedde TV. The hospital provides free life changing surgeries for children in Uganda. Children constitute 80% of the patients it handles.
Namatovu then gathered her confidence and headed to the hospital based on Entebbe road, sandwiched between Kawuku and Kisubi.
On Tuesday, the 6 month old Lizik Namwanga had corrective surgery—at no cost, and now, she can grin ear-to-ear, beautifully, like her two elder siblings.
Namwanga urges parents not to shun children with physical defects, as most of these can be corrected early on.
“Know condition before”
Malcolm Simpson, the CEO of CoRSU said part of the problem in Uganda is that parents do not respond swiftly to such cases. He says 80% of physical disability in the country can be prevented or cured.
“The problem here is that the disabilities are neglected for a long time. When a child become five or six years, then it becomes complicated.”
Dr. Francis Nyiiro, the head of the orthopedic department at the hospital said it is prudent for mothers to know the conditions of their unborn babies.
VIDEO: The mother details the experience and experts give their comment on similar cases
“The beauty of knowing before is that you prepare the family for what to expect. It is traumatizing for things to take you by surprise.”
“You also get counseling so that by the time you get your baby, you are ready to start treatment.”
CoRSU’s operations are largely funded by donors, but they are steadily pulling out their support. In fact, the hospital expects to carry out 5000 surgeries this year, but currently, only funding for 3500 surgeries is available.
“Donors are encouraging CoRSU to be self sustaining, so we are trying to balance between charging fees and providing free surgery for children,”
The hospital has a private wing. The fees charged at this wing are used to subsidize children’s surgeries.
He is also looking a fund raising drive in Uganda that can contribute towards the construction of another ward.
“Uganda has over 30 million people. We need a few of these to contribute sh2000 so that we continue offering a good service,” says Simpson.
Would the hospital consider a Public-Private partnership with the government?
“I do not think government has a lot of money, because it’s got its own public facilities to support. So what we might do is get a way of government hospitals referring children here for surgeries, and perhaps, government can help with free medicine,” the CEO said.
Commonly handled conditions at the hospital:
⦁ Bowlegs and knock knees
⦁ Post injection paralysis
⦁ Bone infections
⦁ Cleft lip and palate
⦁ Post burn contractures.
Story collaborated by Newvision Media Training Research Team
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Free surgery on child’s cleft lip thrills mother