Dr. Rosemary Byanyima, the Deputy Executive Director Mulago National Referral Hospital has asked Government to extend health services closer to people so that expectant mothers get easy and early access to antenatal care to curb birth complications and the related health concerns.
Dr. Byanyima said that much as cases of Spina Bifida (a birth defect in which a developing baby’s spinal cord fails to develop properly) and hydrocephalus (an abnormal buildup of fluid in the ventricles (cavities) deep within the brain) can still occur even when mothers get the required care, antenatal checkups are vital in reducing the occurrence of the defects.
“Mothers, I advise you that as soon as you realize you are pregnant, visit a medical facility for proper care. We are glad as Mulago to be the first in the country to offer Nuero surgery. We now have Cure Hospital complementing our services towards the fight against Spina bifida,” she said.
She noted that much effort is still needed to sensitize expectant mothers about the benefits of attending antenatal checkups such of giving birth to healthy babies and early detection and treatment of birth defects.
She rallied fathers to children born with spina bifida to take responsibility alongside the mothers to raise the children.
“It’s believed that some of these defects occur by chance even after the expectant mother has fulfilled all the necessary requirements. We call upon men (fathers) to stop segregating mothers who have given birth to such children because they are like other children who need parental love to grow healthy,” she said.
Ruth Nalujja, the National coordinator Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Uganda, urged all parents to be supportive to each other as well as the children.
“Risks of giving birth to children with Spinabifida and hydracephalus can be reduced by 75% once an expectant mother starts taking folic acid a few days to conceiving,” Nalujja revealed.
She added that prevention of such birth defects is key as their treatment is very expensive and takes a long time.
According to current health statistics, Uganda registers over 6000 new bones with spina bifida and hydrocephalus every year.
Dr. Byanyima said that once children are introduced to treatment and rehabilitation at an early stage, it reduces the nature of disability they may suffer in the future.