Thousands of children living with disability from across the country received a major lifeline Wednesday when an outreach project was rolled out to offer a raft of solutions for their congenital challenges.
The “Help Me Walk Project” will provide medical interventions including free life-changing corrective surgery, rehabilitative care, counseling and provision of mobility assistive devices to all children with physical challenges. The project targets children aged under 18 years.
Kenya has an estimated 1.92 million children aged below 14 years living with disability. Another 0.93 million adolescents aged between 15-24 years live with various forms of physical challenges.
The new outreach initiative was Wednesday launched by the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta at the Anglican Church of Kenya grounds, Kitale.
She is the patron of the Beyond Zero campaign that focuses on health issues especially the welfare of women and children.
The benevolent project is a partnership between the Kijabe-based AIC-CURE International, Lotto Foundation and Mediamax whose media platforms will be used to create awareness about the challenges facing children living with disability and the need to treat them humanely irrespective of their status.
Already, the project has acquired 22 specialized outreach mobile clinics that will be stationed in strategic centres to enable them serve all the 47 counties, delivering such services as tracing of children with disabilities, undertaking medical assessments and monitoring beneficiaries under rehabilitation.
All children requiring corrective surgery will be transferred to the renown AIC Kijabe Hospital for the operations.
The First Lady said disability makes it difficult for people to live productive lives as they are not able to access specialized care, adding that there is a strong linkage between poverty and disability.
She said there are many disabled children who need assistance but remain locked out of spaces in the society-both at home and school- due to assumptions, poor judgment or ignorance by members of the public.
She thanked AIC-CURE International and all its partners for the great work the organization is doing in supporting children with physical and orthopedic conditions and giving them renewed hope after corrective surgery.
“I encourage AIC CURE International to continue your work in pediatric orthopaedic care, and to extend your reach to every county in Kenya”,she said
According to AIC-CURE International Chief Executive Officer Abed Milelu, the Kijabe Hospital performs thousands of outpatient corrective surgeries for children every year. Besides surgery, the hospital also provides counseling and physiotherapy services among others.
He said the new initiative will become one of the largest health projects assisting children with disability across the country.
He said AIC-CURE International is partnering with Nairobi, Moi and Aga Khan Universities in the area of training for health personnel.
During the launch, hundreds of children with various forms of disability underwent reviews to assess the medical intervention they will need at the AIC Kijabe Hospital under the sponsorship of the various partners.
Mercy Chepchumba, mother to 3-year old Raquel Akinyi Chemutai was hopeful that under the new initiative, her daughter will get assistance for her cerebral palsy condition.
According to the mother, her daughter was born a normal child before developing jaundice which interfered with critical milestones of growth. She has been in and out of hospital for the last three years.
Alice Akuom, 30 year old mother to Sofia Lokapelo said her daughter of six years started experience backbone problems after six months. The minor has a permanent brace fitted in her neck and the mother now hopes she can get a lasting solution under the new project.
Master Davis Wanyonyi, 12, from Bungoma developed pneumonia and Malaria three months after birth. Although the two ailments were treated, it turned out to be the beginning of more congenital challenges for the class seven pupil.
Other speakers at the function included Cabinet Secretary for Health Dr. Cleopa Mailu, Mr Milelu and Trans-Nzoia County Commissioner Ms Anne Gakuria, Ahadi Kenya CEO Dr. Stanley Kamau, Mediamax representative Mathew Karanja and Lotto Foundation chairman Brian Waluchio.