Tororo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Tororo district has the highest number of spina bifida and hydrocephalus cases in the country. These cases occur in unborn babies due to the lack of folic acid in the diet of their mothers. The babies are born with water in the head and spinal cord resulting in disability.
Speaking at a stakeholder’s meeting at Tororo district headquarters on Wednesday ahead of the World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus day scheduled for October 25th, 2021, William Eidu, the country program director of the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, said the increase of cases in the eastern region is worrying.
He explained that 70 percent of the 1,500 children operated this year alone at Cure children’s hospital in Mbale city came from Tororo district. He called on the local leaders and other stakeholders to come up with collective efforts to contain the occurrence of the cases, by sensitizing pregnant mothers to seek antenatal care immediately after conceiving, such that health workers can give the folic acid supplements to prevent their babies from getting the condition.
Sister Connie Bwire, the Assistant Health Officer of Tororo district in charge of maternal health, said that they intend to distribute folic acid tablets to all girls above 15 years of age when schools reopen as part of the measures to address the problem.
She said that the tabs will help the young girls to produce healthy babies free from spina bifida and hydrocephalus when they are ready. She advised pregnant mothers to feed on green vegetables and fruits, which are rich in folic acid.
Vivian Nansubuga, one of the victims of spina bifida and hydrocephalus disease complained about stigmatization and her failure to get a job because of her condition. She says that most of the people with a similar condition can’t access the offices in Tororo and other places of social services like banks and churches among others because they are not user friendly to them.
Nansubuga urged the government and concerned authorities to install lifts and ramps in public buildings to ease their movement. She also called upon the government, local and religious leaders to sensitize the public about spina bifida and hydrocephalus disease such that they can stop discriminating against them.
Paulo Osende, the Tororo district social services secretary who represented the LC V chairperson, said that as local leaders, they have tried to use different forums like funerals and churches among others to preach against stigmatizing children or people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
Sitiwati Wamukangu, a medical doctor working with Cure Children’s hospital in Mbale city, the only hospital in East Africa handling operations for spina bifida and hydrocephalus victims, said they operate 9 children on average each day and 130 in a month.
He asked the government to introduce the services to hospitals like Mulago National Referral Hospital and Mbale Regional Referral Hospital among others to reduce congestion at Cure children’s hospital.