Disability Survey

A doctor examines a boyThis week, I led a team conducting a survey of disabilities in the villages of Biharamulo and Chato districts, on the western shores of Lake Victoria. The survey was arranged by one of FoCT’s local partners, Izaas, and the survey team was comprised of a Doctor working with the Lutheran Church, a retired Government physiotherapist and an Izaas communication specialist.

 In the two districts of Chato and Biharamulo, there is no community based rehabilitation programme (CBRP) as there is in the other neighbouring districts of Karagwe and Ngara. In the absence of such programmes, rapid surveys have to be undertaken to understand the prevalence and type of disabilities afflicting the local population. During the survey, I tried to understand the reasons behind the relatively high levels of disabilities we encountered. Some of the key reasons are:

1) Poor pre-natal care and services, and poor child birth practices.

2) Maternal and child malnutrition

3) Genetic pre-disposition

4) Poor access to health services for treatment of infections.

5) Poverty

A mother and childYou always have to be flexible and creative whilst working 'in the field'. We realised that it was important that a structure be put in place in these areas to continue following up with the disabled people we had identified. FoCT and its local partner, Izaas, therefore reached an agreement with the Catholic Diocese of Rulenge that in future, they would help with the logistics involved of bringing patients from the village to the respective hospitals, so that they can access life-transforming treatment. The catholic coordinators will be Fr Valentine (Parish Priest) and Fr David, who was himself severely disabled in a horrific bus crash a few years ago.

During these surveys, you come across many cases needing urgent assistance. I met Dora, a 5 month year old baby girl, who has a terrible tumour growing out of her head. We immediately informed Fr David, who is now arranging for her to travel to a specialist hospital for emergency treatment. FoCT was able to help finance the costs on the spot, and we will be following up on any further needs for Dora.

I also came across a 39 year old father of seven kids, who is now enduring full blown AIDS. His name is Amos, and he said his wife is now also seriously ill. Amos was clearly incapable of working in the fields to feed his kids, so FoCT therefore acted immediately, and provided some finacial support so that he could at least get some food in the coming weeks. We then referred him to the Lutheran Church who will follow up on his case and ensure that his kids are properly cared for.

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