MASERU – The Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD), together with Physiotherapy and Outreach Program Lesotho (POP) and its partner organisation Mo-Rate Cerebral Palsy Association Lesotho, will host a one-day stakeholder’s training in commemoration of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day today. The event is meant to create a safe and friendly culture for those living with cerebral palsy.
The training is aimed at creating a multi-sectorial community as an advocacy platform to raise the profile of children with cerebral palsy in Lesotho. It is also geared towards sensitising relevant stakeholders, including the media as a mouthpiece of the communities on cerebral palsy. According to Multi Agency International Training (MAITS), cerebral palsy is a condition that affects muscles control and movement.
It is the main cause of physical disability in childhood. Changes in muscle tone and movement are the main characteristics, impairing functionality, hindering independence and interfering with the affected person’s quality of life. Further, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains cerebral palsy as a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
Mo-Rate Cerebral Palsy Association Lesotho chairperson, Itumeleng Mohasi, said the association was established to create awareness of the existence of children with cerebral palsy and the challenges they face in communities. Mohasi urged the government and different stakeholders to consider children with cerebral palsy in decision making, especially in addressing some of the challenges that parents and children with cerebral palsy are facing.
Janet Jeffery, chartered physiotherapist and programme volunteer of physiotherapy and outreach programme Lesotho, explained that cerebral palsy is the most common cause of motor disability in children, with highest prevalence levels in low and middle-income countries. “We hope the workshop on March 25 will raise the capacity of the invited stakeholders to explore the issues surrounding this condition and provide an impetus for discussions that seek potential solutions to the stigmatisation of children with cerebral palsy and their poor access to education and rehabilitation services in Lesotho,” Jeffery noted.
LNFOD director, Nkhasi Sefuthi, noted that this noble cause shows the strength of collaboration between different stakeholders on raising awareness on cerebral palsy. “This came at an opportune time whereas as the federation we are working together with the government of Lesotho and development partners as well as relevant stakeholders to raise awareness through trainings on the importance of inclusive education ensuring that children with cerebral palsy access quality education in Lesotho,” Sefuthi said.
He concluded: “This training also reflects the warm relationship between the LNFOD, physiotherapy and outreach programmes and Mo-Rate Cerebral Palsy Association Lesotho in creating some space in which we can collectively work together to see the implementation of the Persons with Disability Act which was enacted to provide for equal opportunities and recognition of rights of persons living with disabilities in Lesotho.” In line with the Mo-Rate Cerebral Palsy Association Lesotho database, there are currently 134 children with cerebral palsy across Lesotho that the association is directly working with.
According to their database, the highest district with children with cerebral palsy is Leribe with a prevalence of 45, followed by Maseru with 34, Botha-Bothe with 18, with 17 in Qacha’s Nek, 12 in Mafeteng, 11 in Mohale’s Hoek, 10 in Thaba-Tseka, 7 in Berea and 3 in Mokhotlong, while in Quthing the numbers of children with cerebral palsy is not clear. There is a larger number of girl children with cerebral palsy. It is estimated about 77 girls suffer from the condition against 57 boys, with Leribe having the highest number of boys at 29. However, it is suspected that there may be more children not excluded from the database.
Currently the physiotherapy and outreach programme, supported by Glass Waters Foundation, has been able to assess, treat and train 30 children and their families in the district of Maseru, with the intention of going to other districts of Lesotho to provide physiotherapy services and assistive devices through the use of Appropriate Paper Based Technology (APT). This work has provided a valuable platform for advocating for the rights for children with cerebral palsy in Lesotho and highlighted the need for changes in infrastructure and rehabilitative services to support families.