By SOLA OGUNDIPE & CHIOMA OBINNA
A Cerebral Palsy, CP,centre designed to offer specialist support and care to indigent Nigerians with Cerebral Palsy in Nigeria is to be set up in Lagos by the Benola Foundation, a Non- Governmental Organisation and a Cerebral Palsy Initiative.
About 650,000 Nigerians are living with cerebral palsy (CP) while no less than 13.5 million persons are closely connected to a child or adult living with the condition in the country.
Disclosing this to Good Health Weekly at an interactive session last week, Founder and CEO, Benola Foundation Initiative, Retired Air Vice Marshal Femi Gbadebo, explained that the proposed Centre would serve as a regional centre of excellence for specialised services such as counselling, assessment, care and management as well as the production of specialised equipment for those living with CP in and around Nigeria.
Gbadebo and his wife, Alaba, whose 17-year-old son, Olaoluwa is a CP patient, explained that the Centre would also be made to become the lead supportive agency on CP in Africa and a leading advocate for the rights of those living with the condition.
Medical experts say CP – which has no cure for now except for palliative medical treatment to improve quality of life – describes a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscles coordination.
It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during foetal development or during infancy.
Olaoluwa, who was said to have been delivered through Caesarean Section, (CS) had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Doctors cut off the cord but, unfortunately, he suffered brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen (asphyxia) before the cord was cut.
“The problem of CP is compounded in a country like Nigeria where inadequate facilities and lack of trained manpower often make it difficult for parents to find reasonable and affordable options for managing such children, resulting in high infant mortality rate and untold hardship to parents who lack proper understanding of the condition,” Gbadebo stated.
“We at Benola do not claim to be authorities on the subject, but having lived with it for 17 years, we appreciate the problem. For that reason, we hope to become the lead supportive agency on cerebral palsy in Africa and a leading advocate for the rights of those living with the condition.”
Further, Gbadebo called on companies and organisations involved in production or marketing of pharmaceuticals, food, beverages, toiletries and sanitary products to identify with Benola, stating that due to the peculiarities of the condition.
“I call on them to identify with Benola in this noble cause to help make life better for an estimated 650,000 Nigerians living with CP, and the other 13.5 million Nigerians who are closely connected to a child or adult living with it,” he says.
So far, 80 families of persons living with CP, have been in touch with Benola and indicated interest to participate in the forum so as to access necessary information needed to improve the quality of life of affected children and adults.
He further noted that a major challenge Benola will address is counseling parents/ guardians of children with CP to accept that the child has this medical problem. “The earlier you accept that your child has CP, the better. The longer it takes to accept, the more the child’s situation deteriorates. A lot happens in the brain of a child in the first few years.”