Timothy Matovu 16years, Benjamin Mukisa 4years, and Melisa Juuko 10years among others, were some of the known children suffering from hydrocephalus who died during the lockdown which was imposed after the outbreak of Covid19 last year. The trio among others, who used to reside in different areas of Wakiso district, are said to have died due to movement restrictions and the long distance to Mbale district from where they used to get medical attention.
Whereas Mulago national referral hospital is known to handle cases of hydrocephalus, most of such cases have often times been referred to Cure hospital in Mbale, which is a specialty teaching hospital that treats the neurosurgical needs of children with an emphasis on conditions like hydrocephalus, neural tube defects, spina bifida, and brain tumors.
It’s upon such a background that ‘Engage,’ a non-government organisation created a partnership with Wakiso-based Hydrocephalus and Spina bifida Initiative (HSI) and Kisubi hospital, to construct a specialised centre that will be handling hydrocephalus and spina bifida cases.
While meeting the Kisubi hospital directors on Friday, Diana Birungi the ‘Engage’ president said, the centre whose construction will start next year, is estimated to cost Sh800m. “We are finalising plans of identifying a suitable spot within Wakiso district, where we can buy the land and start on the construction process,” stated Birungi.
Working with other international organisations like Genbrug Kilsyg in Denmark, Birungi has plans of offering free medical care to all children suffering from hydrocephalus and spina bifida.
Both ‘Engage’ and Genbrug Kilsyg donated nineteen medical beds, hundreds of wheel chairs, walking sticks among other medical equipment and necessities worth Sh120m to children suffering from hydrocephalus and spina bifida under their umbrella HSI. One medical bed was also donated to Kisubi hospital for its collaborative efforts in treating hydrocephalus and spina bifida.
Dr. Robert Asaba the Kisubi hospital director said, the hospital will continue to provide the necessary medical assistance to all affected children. “Here, we usually treat and discharge, yet with hydrocephalus cases, children need constant care. So, I believe, the new centre will go a long way in providing the required care for these children,” said Dr. Asaba.
Ronald Kalema the Katabi town council chairperson said, money has always been allocated from the town council budget, towards the care of such children. He pledged to support the construction and sustenance of the new specialised centre in case it’ll be constructed within Katabi town council.
Patience Mbabazi the founder of Hydrocephalus and Spina bifida Initiative (HSI) appreciated the plans of constructing the centre within Wakiso district, saying the move will go a long way in saving the lives of such children who die on their way to Mbale.
She noted that whereas there are 84 mothers with children suffering from hydrocephalus and spina bifida under HSI, the actual number of such special children in Wakiso district, is not known. “Some parents choose to hide their children, claiming the sickness is traditional,” intimated Mbabazi.
Micheal Ogwal, a medical doctor at Cure hospital in Mbale says, Hydrocephalus occurs usually due to the blockage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) outflow in the ventricles over the brain. According to Dr. Ogwal, every human being has got CSF which continuously circulates through the brain, its ventricles and the spinal cord and is continuously drained away into the circulatory system.
“Alternatively, the condition may result from an overproduction of the CSF above the normal 500ml produced by the body everyday, or from complications of head injuries, or infections such as meningitis,” added Dr. Ogwal.
Fetuses, infants, and young children with hydrocephalus typically have an abnormally large head, excluding the face, because the pressure of the fluid causes the individual skull bones to bulge outward at their juncture points.
About Spina bifida
Spina bifida is a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. The most common location is the lower back, but in rare cases it may be the middle back or neck.