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A New Study Reveals that Children with Cerebral Palsy have 25 Times Higher Risk Of Premature Death

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The largest study on Cerebral palsy in Africa to date reveals that interventions to prevent malaria infections such as the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, coupled with caregiver training and support, including best feeding practices and simple measures to prevent other infections, could potentially reduce mortality in children with Cerebral palsy in this region. The study found out that the main causes of death were malaria and aneamia. The children with severe malnutrition and severe motor impairments were the most likely to die.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a developmental disorder and the most common cause of childhood physical disability globally. CP is significantly more prevalent in low-income and middle-income countries like Uganda where the researchers noted a lower prevalence in the older (8-17 years) than younger (2-7 years) age groups as demonstrated in the findings of an earlier study conducted in 2015. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(17)30374-1/fulltext

The decline in prevalence of children with CP with increasing age in the 2015 study, led the researchers to hypothesize about the risk of premature death in these children.

In order to get a better understanding of the situation, a follow-up study was carried out at the Iganga-Mayuge Health and Demographic Surveillance Site (IM-HDSS) in eastern Uganda. Earlier in 2015, the researchers had screened 31,756 children and identified 97 (aged 2–17 years) who were diagnosed as having CP. The children with CP were followed up to 2019 and compared with an age-matched sample of the IM-HDSS general non-CP population (n=41, 319). The rates and causes of deaths in these groups were determined.

The research team found that the rate of death was 25 times higher in the CP group than the general non-CP population sample. The mean age at death among the CP group was 10•2±5•9 years and 7•2±4•8 years among the general non-CP population sample. In the CP group, females and older children (10-18 years) had higher relative risks of death in relation to the non-CP general population. Significantly, in children with CP, there was an almost 7 times risk of death in those with severe motor impairments compared to those with milder ones. In addition, those with severe malnutrition had a more than 3 times higher risk of death than children without severe malnutrition. The causes of death were from common conditions like anemia, malaria and common infections.

The results of this study, are the first of its kind to reveal the true extent of the hidden humanitarian crisis of excessive mortality in the CP child population. Severe malnutrition as one of the risk factors of excessive mortality plays a dynamic multifaceted role, partly aggravated by severe oral motor impairments which lead to chewing and swallowing problems, and the need for special foods and prolonged feeding times. Furthermore, the age pattern for mortality in children with CP confirms this study’s hypothesis with many dying when approaching school age, compared to the non-CP general population. The probable reasons for this may be attributed to caregivers eventually losing hope as these children grow older when they realize that their child will not be cured, or alternatively as a result of the minimal time provided to the child with increasing age (including during supervised feedings), which increases their vulnerability.

The higher mortality among the females may suggest a preferential treatment of boys with CP in Uganda which needs further study. Finally, regarding the causes of death, the frequent occurrence of anemia as a cause of death may signify the interplay of the conditions of underlying malaria infections and severe malnutrition in severely impaired children with feeding problems.

A multipronged approach including raising awareness about this challenge should be emphasized locally and internationally to promote the development of appropriate health and advocacy policies. Although efforts to reduce child mortality are quite evident in the recent decades, targeted interventions to reduce mortality in the CP child population, such as the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets to prevent malaria infections, provision of easy to use, locally available nutritious foods coupled with caregiver information and support should be encouraged. Reinforcement and regular review of the existing laws and policies related to their specific requirements should be enacted. In general, further research to identify long-term risk factors and immediate causes of death in children with developmental disabilities in the region is also urgently required

These findings are to be formally published in the journal ‘PLOS ONE’ and entitled: “Excessive premature mortality among children with cerebral palsy in rural Uganda: a longitudinal, population-based study”.

Publication

Excessive premature mortality among children with cerebral palsy in rural Uganda: A longitudinal, population-based study.

Namaganda LH, Almeida R, Kajungu D, Wabwire-Mangen F, Peterson S, Andrews C, et al
PLoS One 2020 ;15(12):e0243948

Related story by collaborators at Karolinska institute here:

https://news.ki.se/children-with-cerebral-palsy-in-rural-uganda-have-25-times-higher-risk-of-premature-death

This study was funded by the Swedish Research Council, and Promobilia.

Dr. Angelina Kakooza – Mwesige
Makerere University, College of Health Sciences
Kampala, UGANDA.
On behalf of the Researchers

Health

Boy Children Report More Physical & Emotional Abuse

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Men in the intervention group during the Parenting for Responsibility (PfR) project training session.

By George Kisetedde

On 3rd August, 2022, the CHDC (Child Health and Development Centre) disseminated study findings from one of the research studies carried out at the centre. These findings were presented under the title,“The Prevention of Violence against Children and Women: Baseline and Implementation Science Results from Parenting Cluster Randomised Trial.” Moderated by Dr. Anthony Batte, a lecturer at CHDC. Study findings were presented by Joseph Kahwa, the trial manager of the Parenting for Responsibility (PfR) project, under which this study falls.

Kahwa described PfR as a community based parenting programme delivered to both male and female parents. This programme aims to improve parenting skills, prevent violence against children, and to improve spousal relationships.

Findings from the study

Findings from this study showed that parents maltreat boy children more than girl children. The boys reported more emotional and physical violence than girls. Furthermore, the boy children reported that male caregivers specifically, maltreat them more. On the other hand, the girl children reported more sexual violence from caregivers than boys. On the whole, the children reported that female caregivers emotionally and physically abused them more compared to male caregivers.

More findings, according to Kahwa, showed that 46.5% of parents in Amuru can provide their children with soap to wash, 44.5% can provide school fees, 44.4% can provide school materials, 44.2% can provide new clothes, 43.3% can buy school uniform, and 35.9% can provide a pair of shoes.

How the research is conducted

The study is divided into 16 group sessions. The first 9 sessions are single sex, that is, male caregivers and female caregivers train separately. The next 7 sessions are mixed with male and female participants combined during training.

A mixed group parenting session for both men and women.
A mixed group parenting session for both men and women.

Kahwa explained that this programme was initiated to deal with VAC (violence against children) and IPV (intimate partner violence). These two vices are closely linked and have a significant impact on how children turn out.

Kahwa added that the PfR research programme aims at addressing the four major factors that may lead to VAC/IPV. These include; poor parental bonding, harsh parenting, unequal gender socialisation and spousal relationships.Poor parental bonding refers to the absence of a healthy close connection between a parent and their child. When a parent and child are not close, the parent may lack empathy for the child and the ability to perceive and respond to their child’s needs. When this bond is weak, a parent is unable to appreciate a child’s needs and can end up being unrealistically tough, which results in harsh parenting. Unequal gender socialisation generally refers to the different expectations that parents have of their children depending on their gender-male or female. The quality of the spousal relationship between parents also affects a child’s life. These four areas are what the parenting sessions concentrate on during the training.

The PfR study employed a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) design. Male and female caregivers were recruited from cluster villages in the Wakiso and Amuru districts in Uganda. One child aged 10 to 14 per household was randomly selected and assessed.

The caregivers were divided into two groups; the intervention group and the control group. The intervention group underwent all the 16 sessions of the training while the control group underwent a 2 session lecture on parenting. The impact of the PfR intervention was then ascertained by comparing baseline and endline results (or the before-and-after experiences of parents). The study participants were from 54 Villages selected in both Amuru and Wakiso districts. 108 caregiver groups (54 groups per intervention)were selected. This resulted in 2328 parents recruited and 886 children.

In conclusion, Mr. Kahwa said that maltreatment is still prevalent in the population. Generally, the PfR programme was well-received by parents and it had ad good attendance from parents. The programme also registered good male engagement. The peer facilitators who were recruited also had great potential in expanding the PfR programme at community level.

This study was conducted by Dr Siu Godfrey as the Principal Investigator. Other members of the team included Carolyn Namutebi, Richard Sekiwunga, Joseph Kahwa, Dr Betty Okot, and Martha Atuhaire. They were supported by the Director from CHDC, Dr. Herbert Muyinda and the CHDC Finance & Administration team. The team from Glasgow & Oxford Universities in the UK included, Prof Daniel Wight, Dr Jamie Lachman , Francisco Calderon and Dr Qing Han. On the other side, the team from the SOS Children’s Village from Gulu and Wakiso included, Rachel Kayaga, Sindy Auma Florence and Godfrey Otto.

Contact: George Kisetedde – kisetedde@gmail.com | Edited by Agnes Namaganda – agnesvioletnamaganda@gmail.com

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Health

Makerere Medical Journal: Golden Jubilee Edition 2022

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Cover Page of the Makerere Medical Journal Golden Jubilee Edition 2022.

It’s with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Golden Jubilee edition of this phenomenal journal. Yes, The Makerere Medical Journal marks 50 years of publication with this year’s edition and all this has been made possible by the endless efforts and contributions of the Makerere University College of Health Sciences Staff and students because without your research submissions and financial support, the journal wouldn’t have made it this far. To you reading this, thank you for contributing to the sustainability of this great project, year in year out.

Here’s a quote to ponder on as you delve into this year’s well-crafted articles and it’s by Zora Hurston (1891-1960), “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” And doesn’t that just define our purpose as researchers?!

This edition’s articles cover pertinent topics ranging from Antimicrobial Stewardship, COVID-19 interventions, Oral Health amongst others. It also features student projects, write-ups on student-led organizations and societies that are making a difference in the life of a health sciences’ student and many more interesting writings. Featured in this issue are international manuscripts from countries like Nigeria and we were also honored to work with other universities within the country and feature some of their students’ articles.

I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to my team of editors that engaged in a rigorous peer review process to ensure that the articles published are up to standard. As the editorial team, we are quite pleased to see the number of undergraduates involved in research steadily increasing and all the efforts that have been put in by the different stakeholders to see this happen are commendable.

With that said, I hope you enjoy every second of your read!!!

LINDA ATULINDA,
MBChB IV

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF,
Research and Writers’ Club 2021-2022

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Health

Call for Applications: HEPI Masters Support Fellowship

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Panelists L-R: Professor Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, Professor Francis Omaswa, Professor Jehu Iputo and Professor Joel Okullo at the HEPI-ACHEST Health Professions Education Symposium, 17th June 2022, Makerere University.

Applications are invited for the Health Professional Education Partnership Initiative (HEPI-SHSSU) Masters fellowship programme support from postgraduate students of:

  • Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS)
  • Kabale University School of Medicine
  • Clarke International University
  • Faculty of Health Sciences, Busitema University

The programme will support graduates in their final year of training leading to the award of a Masters degree on any of the Master’s graduate training programs at the stated University for a maximum of 19 successful candidates.

The closing date for the receipt of applications is 30th September 2022.

Inquiries and Applications must be submitted to hepishssu@gmail.com

See attachment for more details 

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