Why hydrocephalus and spinal bifida problems treatable

10Jun 2016
Abela Msikula
The Guardian
Why hydrocephalus and spinal bifida problems treatable

Hydrocephalus is defined as excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulation in the head caused by a disturbance of formation, flow, or absorption.

A child suffering from Hydrocephalus problem, waiting for treatments at MOI

Although there are a number of causes of infantile hydrocephalus, the condition is most associated with the congenital anomalies spina bifida and aqueductal stenosis.

Hydrocephalus is caused by either increased production of CSF or impaired circulation and absorption. Hydrocephalus caused by impaired circulation is called obstructive hydrocephalus because CSF circulation is anatomically blocked.

Hydrocephalus caused by increased production or impaired absorption of CSF is called communicating hydrocephalus because CSF circulation is not anatomically blocked.

Spina bifida is a midline defect in the mesenchymal-derived tissues and is classified as either a closed or open neural tube defect (NTD). Closed NTDs do not involve exposed neural tissue and do not leak CSF.

Open NTDs are subclassified into myelomeningocele (most common), myeloschisis, or hemimyelomeningocele (most rare). The goals of surgery are to preserve neural function, to prevent infection, and to prevent long-term complications such as an epidermal or dermal inclusion cyst and cord tethering.

Medical treatments for children suffering from big heads and open backs problems, known as Hydrocephalus and Spinal bifida cost between 700,000/- and to 1.5m/-, which is unaffordable to many Tanzanian families with common income.
Speaking to this paper recently in Dar es Salaam, Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI)’s Executive Director, Dr Othman Kiloloma, said they were working tiresomely to ensure they get sponsors who will fill the existing financial gaps to enable them to treatment more patients.

According to Dr Kiloloma over 4, 000 infected children are born in Tanzania, per year; but 600 patients only manage to access hospital treatment annually. The rest fail to access treatment because of poverty.

He however, revealed that some people have been refusing to take their patients to hospital due to false beliefs that Hydrocephalus and Spinal bifida was a curse in certain families or clans, thus practicing rituals as a way forward to arrest the situation, but all in vain.

Dr Kiloloma has urged people to immediately take their patients to hospitals after realising the problem because his institution has enough experts to counteract the problem.He said that MOI was on its final stage of preparations to enable it extend its services throughout the country so as to reach everybody.

“However, we request prospective mothers to consult health experts six months before they get pregnancy in order to have, among others, supplements for the folic acid which prevents Hydrocephalus and Spinal bifida,” said Dr Kiloloma.

Also in order to deal the problem recently, Partnership for Nutrition in Tanzania (PANITA) organised a nutrition workshop for religious leaders aiming at urging them to continue educating their faithful on the importance of nutrition for their lives.

Sharmilla Mohamed from Tanzania Muslim Women Foundation, who was one of the participants to that workshop, has urged the government to put in place policies that will force pregnant women whether they like or not they must attend clinic from the first week; unlike currently where pregnant women start attending clinic after three months of pregnancy.
She also made the call for establishment of one stop centers country-wide specifically for both pregnant and mothers who plan conceiving; in a bid to avoid Hydrocephalus and Spinal bifida.

According to nutritionists the nourishment of a baby starts from the first day a mother gets pregnant by eating a balanced diet,” she urged.

Panita also supported the idea that attending clinic early serves in various ways; including access to supplements for various nutrients to mothers who fail to eat properly over pregnancy complications.

“It happens that some mothers fail to eat properly because of lack of appetite during their first time of pregnancy.”
But educative sessions and the balanced foods eaten by a woman six months before pregnancy, and early attending of clinic for regular check-ups and advice, play a big role in enabling a woman get in her normal situation and therefore continue eating the balanced diet.

Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) has revealed that dwarfism and all malnutrition-related cases will be eliminated after their findings revealed that the main cause of dwarfism was lack of nutritional education among citizens.
TFNC Senior Researcher, Maria Msangi said that they have established social and behavioral change communication (SBCC) programmes to offer educative sessions on nutritional matters to the public.

The government has also introduced nutrition centres in all the municipal councils across the country with enough manpower (nutritionists) so that all remote areas can be easily reached.

According to Msangi, TFNC has forbidden the provision of cow milk to their under six months children because it lacks the needed nutrient foods for appropriate babies’ growth.

The Nutritionist at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Mariam Nyamwaira, also commented that mothers have to know that baby bottles are currently not allowed.

The restriction is based on hygienic matters as most people have failed to properly clean bottles keeping milk, as a result causing diarrhea to children.

“The contracted diseases have in turn led children to suffer from malnutrition after failing to eat food with sufficient nutrients. We therefore, request all mothers to use well cleaned cups,” she said.

Meanwhile, the public has been told that eating balanced diet was not only for pregnant, breast feeding mothers, and children, but adults are also required to eat balanced diet.

People who engage farming activities have been urged to consume high amount of food than those in offices like teachers, accountants, or judges.

Excess food consumption has been forcing the change of the food function into human bodies. Once a person takes excess carbohydrate foods, the body will choose the needed amount, and the rest food will automatically be turned into fat.

For women, the unused food settles in hips, chest and sleeve parts and make them big; and for men the food piles on in stomach, hence, causing obesities. “In short, every person has some amount of calories needed in his/her body. So, food intake should base on the task one performs daily in order to maintain the calories.