PREGNANT mothers have been advised to use nutritious foods that are rich in folic acid (Folate) to avoid giving birth to babies with ‘spinaBifida’ and hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus is defined as excess of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulation in the head caused by a disturbance of formation, flow, or absorption; while Spina-bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.
It’s a type of neural tube defect A surgeon at Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital, Omar Mohammed Mussa, urged journalists to help spread the message to pregnant mothers that it is important to use nutritious foods or folic acid tabs three months before their gestation period to protect infants from the disease and also minimize the risks.
The press conference was among events to mark the 2021 World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Day (WSBHD) on October 25. This year’s theme is “Unlock Your Right To Health” to bring attention to the rights of persons with disabilities as laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The day is important that individuals with SBH and their families are aware of their human rights as per article 25 of the UNCRPD.
It is equally important for healthcare providers, professionals and policy makers to understand their obligations to the UNCRPD. Mr Mussa also said that lack of required amount of Folic Acid in pregnant women contributes to having children born with ‘Spina Bifida (commonly known as mgongo wazi) and Hydrocephalus (Kichwa kikubwa) and that without proper care and treatment of the newborn it is more likely to develop a disability.
He explained that it is important for pregnant women to have regular health checkups after becoming pregnant, “However, Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus can be treated, therefore we ask mothers to report the abnormality after giving birth.” Health statistics indicate that in the period between 2017 to August 2021, a total of 224 children were born with Hydrocephalus (including 65 in Unguja, 45 in Pemba and 14 from mainland Tanzania), and 61 Spina Bifida.
The surgeon said 14 died from Hydrocephalus and eight from Spina Bifida.