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CALL FOR AWARENESS

Ignorance makes defects be seen as bewitchment

The challenge is convincing families with such children to bring them to hospital

In Summary

• Parents in rural ares do not know if there is treatment for such conditions.

Miss Universe Kenya Wabaiya Kariuki, smiles at a baby with a cleft lip at Smile Cure Kenya International Hospital in Kijabe.
Miss Universe Kenya Wabaiya Kariuki, smiles at a baby with a cleft lip at Smile Cure Kenya International Hospital in Kijabe.
Image: GEORGE MUGO

Inadequate information on health issues leaves women who bear children with deformities under suspicion of bewitching or bad luck. 

Visiting children at Cure Kenya Hospital in Kijabe, Miss Universe Kenya Wabaiya Kariuki called upon the national and county governments to promote awareness on health issues. This would prevent treatable diseases from dragging back the society, she said.

Kariuki said the country has grown and there are hospitals that correct the deformities in children since they heal quickly, and that the challenge is convincing families with such children to bring them to hospital.

 
 
 

“It is so sad when one visits the remote parts of this country and finds grown-ups with bent limbs and cleft palates," she said.

"When you talk to them, you realise their parents did not know if there is treatment for those conditions. 

“Others will tell you the kids' parents were bewitched, and that is why their children come with deformities. They also say some homes have people with such conditions and are not allowed to interact with the society."

ENDING RIDICULE

Present were Smile Train director Jane Ngige, official Joseph Kariuki, Cure Kenya Hospital executive director Abed Milelu and marketing officer Nelson Musyoki.

Orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital Dr Joseph Theuri said cleft lips and palates, whose cause is not known, is treatable with surgery.

He said not all cases of bent hands and legs in newborn children undergo surgery, explaining that those who are admitted to theatre are of extreme conditions.

 
 
 

Mulelu said the few patients they handle are those who voluntarily attend, but the majority are the ones they go look for in remote areas.

“We conduct health clinics every week in rural areas, and we must get one or two cases that need attention. We advise them to come, but there are those who don’t, even after advising them to do so,” he said.

Ngige said it is high time the government and the society join hands to bring hope to families with such children by ensuring such cases are treated.

“We must do all we can to eradicate cases of stigma, rejection and ridicule to parents and such children,” Ngige said.