Parents Association of Spina-bifida and Hydrocephalus (Pashl) in Malawi is raising awareness on the two conditions that lead to defects in the brain to change people’s mindset towards children affected by such conditions.
Hydrocephalus is a condition that occurs when fluid builds up in the skull and causes the brain to swell while spina-bifida is a condition where the bones in the vertebral column do not fully cover the spinal cord, leaving it exposed to various infections.
Speaking during an awareness meeting held on Sunday at Phiama Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mchiramwera in Thyolo District, the association’s chairperson Blessings Chapweteka bemoaned the continued stigma and discrimination against children with such conditions.
“The cases continue to increase in the country; for example, at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital alone more than 300 cases are recorded annually,” he said.
In her remarks, Pashl board member Mercy Mpunga, who also works for the Malawi Council for the Handicapped (Macoha), bemoaned the tendency by some parents who lock up children with disability, thereby denying them access to education and other human rights.
“I call upon all parents with children with disabilities to send them to school,” she said.
Village head Mpiama hailed the association for the meeting, saying it was an eye-opener not only to parents with children with disabilities but the entire village.
Established in 2009, Pachl operates in Blantyre and Chikwawa districts. It plans to expand to all districts in the country.