Ms Esi Foriwaa Amoaful, Deputy Director, Nutrition at the Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service on Thursday advocated for a nationwide training of health staff to enable them identify children with Cerebral Palsy at the very early stage
“It seems that many parents with children who are cerebral palsy do not know what is happening to their children, they are forced to believe that their children are suffering from spiritual attacks and therefore do not do much to help their children.”
Ms Amoaful said this when the International Centre for Evidence in Disability in collaboration with cbm, a Christian Development Organization organized a meeting to share findings of a base-line study to determine the quality of life of care takers of children with Cerebral Palsy
The study is being undertaking by CBM, in collaboration with the International Centre for Evidence in Disability of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Ghana (UG) to evaluate the impact of a community –based parent training programme for children with Cerebral Palsy in Ghana.
As part of the programme, Specialists, including, Physiotherapists, Pediatricians, Nutritionists, Speech therapists, and a team of researchers visited selected parts of the country to educated and train parents of children with Cerebral palsy on basic physiotherapy skills
The Specialists also organizes a three hour community meeting once a month and a 45 minutes home visit to such parents to see how their children are progress and work together to achieve basic development milestones of the children
Mrs Maria Zuurmond, Research Fellow at the International Centre for Evidence in Disability, sharing some findings with stakeholders, said about 70 percent of the children with Cerebral Palsy they are using in their study are malnourished
She explained that most of the parents do not make the needed time to feed these children and some do not feed them with the right food.
“We noticed that some of the parents or care givers feed the children in a lying position, because the children are not able to sit, they choke on the food and are not able to feed properly, within a short time of our study we have already lost six of such children,” she said, pointing out that it could be due to malnutrition or maltreatment of the children
As part of our programme, we are teaching parents and care givers how to handle the children and we have already have evidence of mothers who are now holding their children with Cerebral Palsy well and seeing an improvement in their health.
Mrs Zuurmond said 84 percent of the parents of children with Cerebral Palsy have no knowledge what is happening with their children.
The study is using 76 children in total across the country. The team uses a parents training manual titled: “Getting to Know Cerebral Palsy” to teach the parents. The project is a 24 month project which started in January 2015 and ends December 2016.
Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, National Child Health Coordinator at the Ghana Health Service, reiterated the need for more education and awareness on Cerebral palsy.
She said: “If more people know about Cerebral Palsy, then more people will be supportive of these children instead of maltreating them.”
Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Initiator of the Special Mothers Project in Ghana, who commended the project, said there was an urgent need to train mothers of children with Cerebral Palsy with the basic skills in physiotherapy and speech therapy to enhance the quality of life of these children.
“I believe that the parents, especially the mothers are the best people to understand and handle their children well, if the mothers are empowered they can also create awareness about the condition and increase acceptance of these children in our society.”
Mrs Sandra Carsamer Asante, senior physiotherapist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, who is part of the team implementing the project said, she had seen evidence of improvement and enhanced living with the families that are being piloted for the project already.