Kenya to set up specialised brain hospital for children


The Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County where the specialised brain clinic for children will be established. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Kenya is establishing a specialised brain clinic for children by mid-next year in a national effort to address the gap in taking care of those with special needs by offering them advanced treatment.

The Wezesha Watoto clinic will be set up at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

It will be open to the general public from all counties, offering a diagnosis of disabilities with a focus on neurocognitive assessment, neurophysiology assessment, occupational therapy, and treatment.

Mark Nyalumbe, the chairperson for the Kenya Medical Psychology Association, says the clinic will also serve as a referral facility to low-income populations who are always left with the choice of expensive private hospitals.

The clinic will adopt the public hospital rates and also incorporate the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to rally with the private facilities that offer the services but at higher prices.

In Kenya, there are several exclusive children's hospitals while others are departments in a big hospital that serves both children and adults.

They include among others Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, MP-Shah Hospital, and the Karen Hospital which are charging as high as over Sh4,000 for consultation only.

“The neurodevelopment clinic will be more of a pediatric looking at children with different developmental disorders, especially around the brain neurons. Through implementing the clinic, we will be able to expand the care to more people and the vulnerable who couldn’t afford it before. In Kenya the services are either very expensive or not available at all,” said Dr Nyalumbe.

The facility, he says will help increase treatment by providing additional clinical space and staffing to transition from being a weekly clinic to a daily clinic to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

It will also act as a centre for excellence in training and innovation through upskilling of healthcare workers to enable them to provide care and research in children with disabilities.

It will as well provide rehabilitation facilities to the patients.

Dr Nyalumbe said the development is coming at an appropriate time considering the long waiting list for children and families to be seen by healthcare workers at the outpatient pediatric neurology clinic in western Kenya.

“The outpatient pediatric clinic is usually open just one day a week because the limited number of healthcare workers are overburdened with service at hospitals. Diagnosis and treatment for children can be difficult,” said Dr Nyalumbe.

The initiative comes at a time childhood disability is becoming a burden in the country in Kenya, and also affecting millions of children around the world.

According to the Ministry of Health, the prevalence of childhood disability in children aged 3 to 21 years in Kenya is 13.1 percent.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1.3 billion people which translates to 16 percent of the global population experience a significant disability today.

With the opening of the clinic, parents with children living with different disabilities will have hopes of raising their children knowing that care options exist.

Apart from experiencing language, speech, motor skills, behaviour memory, and learning, children with neurodevelopmental disorders face additional stigma, isolation and even neglect.

Dr Nyalumbe says the facility has adapted all the equipment that will enable them to offer care that is culturally sensitive, and appropriate to the Kenyan population.

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