WHO says 3.2 million birth defect-related disabilities occur yearly

World Health Organisation (WHO) Head-Quater in Geneva, Switzerland.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Head-Quater in Geneva, Switzerland. Copyright : WHO/Pierre Virot

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 3.2 million birth defect-related disabilities and an estimated 276,000 newborn deaths occur every year.

Olubunmi Lawal, the Founder, Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Care Foundation (SHCF), a non-governmental organisation, said this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

She said that globally, it was estimated that 300,000 neonates were born with neural tube defect annually, while the survivors need a lifelong surgical and rehabilitation care.

Ms. Lawal, however, said that there was no cure for the condition, except the intake of folic acid prior to, and during the early stages of pregnancy, which could prevent the occurrence of neutral tube defect.

She urged government at all levels, health care professionals and other key stakeholders to provide better education, health care for children with disabilities.

Ms. Lawal said that the association was committed to creating awareness and support for children with disabilities in the country.

To this end, she said that this year’s commemoration of the World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Day had as its theme: “Better Parenting, Leaving no one behind’’.

She explained that spina bifida is a birth defect that happens when a baby’s backbone (spine) does not form normally, while hydrocephalus means that there is extra fluid in and around the brain of a child.

She added that the extra fluid could cause the spaces in the brain, called ventricles to become too large which can also lead to swelling of the head.

The two-day event, which is scheduled for October 24 and 25, would take place at the Trauma Centre, National Hospital Abuja.


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