The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) this week gifted cash vouchers to 22 mothers with children born with microcephaly to help brace them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Each mother received at least $20,000 for her child.
Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Officer, Dr. Oneka Scott, said that the vouchers can be en-chased at any of the Bounty Supermarkets countrywide.
The beneficiaries are those mothers with children born with microcephaly between 2016 and 2018. Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which the circumference of a child’s head is smaller than normal. Specialists have explained that the condition can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth.
The Zikavirus is blamed for the spread of microcephaly. The virus that causes the disease is transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes Egypti mosquitoes.
“We realise that these children will not meet normal developmental milestones,” Dr. Scott said during a recent handing-over formality for the mothers.
Scott said most of the local children were born with “severe microcephaly, meaning the head circumference is unusually small affecting brain development. These children do not speak; they do not move and turn normally, and they do not respond to vision signals.”
The MCH official said caring for children with microcephaly can be quite draining on mothers, forcing some to quit their jobs and remain housewives.
“Feeding themselves is not an option, bathing is not an option, indicating to their parents when they wanted to fulfil a physiological need like using the bathroom or eating is not an option, hence these children require (constant) special care and special attention” she noted.
Scott reminded that the MOPH has also been providing financial assistance for mothers- especially for those living outside the capital city – to have their regular medical check-ups.
“Every three months, they are required to go to the ophthalmologist, they need to go to audiology and they need to see the neurologist maybe twice a year. They are also required to do physiotherapy weekly depending on the severity of their condition”, she detailed.
MOPH has been collaborating with the Ministry of Social Protection more than 18 months to help provide a special financial package (through the MOSP’s Social Assistance Programme) to help the families. Each family is given $18,000 ($9,000 for the child and $9,000 for the mother).
The children also benefitted from tumble-form chairs through collaborations with the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF); monthly pampers through the Ministry of Education (MOE) Support Programme and a milk-hamper and other supplies from the MOPH’s monthly milk-feeding programme.
Meanwhile, one of the beneficiaries of this week’s voucher, Ms. Davie Hussein, mother of three years old, Veena Kushera, lauded the Ministry’s continued financial support initiative, which supplements the earnings of her husband, now the sole breadwinner in the family since she was forced to quit her job to take care of her daughter.
“I am very thankful for it and whenever I pray, I always thank God for them because it ease me of the having to buy milk every month…and to buy her pampers” Hussein said.
Permanent Secretary (PS) of the MOPH, Ms. Collette Adams, who handed out two of the vouchers emphasised that the Ministry is always eager to provide quality health care especially to children with special needs.
“As I always say, the health of the people is the business of the Ministry of Public Health. And so it’s always our honour and pleasure to ensure that every Guyanese is being treated equally and have equal access to health care” Adams reiterated.
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