The Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) in partnership with the Umbrella Organization of Persons with Disabilities in the fight against HIV and Promotion (UPHLS) have introduced five books offering guidelines to parents and caregivers on early detection, prevention and treatment of disabilities among the young children.
The launch of the books was held on August 29. The books intend to promote children’s welfare especially those at risk of musculoskeletal impairment (MSI).
Musculoskeletal impairments is a condition that comprise more than 150 different diseases that are characterized by impairments in the muscles, bones, joints and adjacent connective tissues leading to temporary or lifelong limitations in functioning.
Health professionals believe that early detection of this disability can help prevent further consequences if left untreated.
Notably, books which were presented are: Simplified tool for Early Detection of Developmental Delays and Disabilities in the community (STEID), National clinical practice guidelines for management of angular knees deformities, National cerebral palsy clinical practice guideline, National clinical practice guidelines for the management of Clubfoot Deformity and National clinical practice guidelines for the management of flat foot.
Drawing from an extensive survey conducted among 4134 individuals aged 16-year-old and less, who were enumerated, 3526 equivalents to 85 percent were screened. According to findings, 91 children bore the burden of musculoskeletal impairment.
Diving deeper into the statistics, it becomes apparent that different factors contribute to these impairments. A notable 23 percent were attributed to congenital deformities, while 14 percent were linked to neurologic conditions.
Figures from RBC indicate that trauma accounted for 12 percent while infections played a role in 3 percent of the cases. Acquired pathologies encompassed a significant 46 percent of the cases, highlighting the multi-faceted nature of MSI causes.
By inducing treatment requirements, experts estimate that approximately 2 percent of Rwandan children equivalent to around 80,000, need orthopedic physical therapy, 1.2 percent need orthopedic surgery, and nearly 10,000 are in need of orthopedic appliances.
These numbers provide a glimpse into the immense potential of early intervention and the scope for transformation.
Irene Baguhirwa, the Director of Injuries and Disability Unity in RBC said: “the books we have introduced are simplified guides designed to help a wide range of people including community health workers, caregivers and parents.”
“For example, simplified tool for Early Detection of Developmental Delays and Disabilities in the Community (STEID)’, is a book specifically focused on recognizing potential developmental delays and disabilities in children.”
“It presents the various stages of growth in young children, enabling caregivers to spot any deviations from the normal development process based on the child’s age. For instance, if a child should be walking by a certain age but is not it is an indicator that something might be wrong. In such cases, the caregiver should take the child to a doctor promptly. This approach ensures that any potential disabilities are addressed early on, increasing the chances of successful treatment and support,” she said.
Emmanuel Ndayisaba, the Executive Secretary of National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) commended the initiative revealing that children with disabilities are a particularly vulnerable group, often facing challenges in accessing essential health services, education and opportunities for productive engagement.
“Addressing these issues is crucial, as they form the foundation of a fulfilling life. Neglecting these aspects can negatively impact the overall wellbeing of not only the children themselves but also society as a whole,” he said.