Children with Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus in Africa
An extended review on “Children with Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus in Africa: can medical, family and community resources improve the life chances?” is now available full text, online.
This article uses spina bifida and hydrocephalus to trace severe disability in African histories and cultures, starting with cave skeletons in Morocco ca. 10,000 BC. It closes in the 21st century with innovative surgery and the voices of people living with these conditions. Evidence is drawn from 24 countries, in all regions of Africa, for the growth of medical and surgical treatments, and more recent family and community-based responses. Some African socio-cultural resources historically have supported family and community care for severely disabled children. Other cultural practices have offered these children back to the spirit world. Europeans brought surgical innovations and some preventive methods, intensifying battles over national priorities, between budget-gulping modern hospitals and low-cost Primary Health Care for the masses.
Some community-based rehabilitation (CBR) efforts with children having spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus are described, with challenges to the CBR approach from the increased survival of children and adults with severe disabilities requiring a complex continuum of care and opportunity. No single ‘technical fix’ is likely to succeed. More appropriate information, recognition of indigenous knowledge, enlistment of community resources and financial assistance are needed, and must accompany more general socio-economic progress, to enhance the lives of Africans with hydrocephalus, spina bifida, and other severely disabling conditions. (230 references are shown)
The help of Adolf Ratzka and Miles Goldstick has been much appreciated, in hosting this article in the Independent Living Institute open web library.