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Teso children paralysis toll rises to 30

Thursday July 16 2015
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Ken Murungu limps into their house at Kakapel in Teso North on July 17, 2015. Angry parents ferried six more children with paralysed or weak legs to hospital as they demanded the arrest and prosecution of health workers said to have improperly injected them. PHOTO | TONY OMONDI |

By GODFREY OUNDOH
By LINET WAFULA

Parents of six more children with paralysed or weak legs have come forward bringing the number of affected children to 30.

Most of the children at Akichelesit Dispensary in Teso North, Busia County could barely walk on their weak limbs while others had wounds oozing with pus. The elder children could only walk with the aid of walking sticks.

Their irate parents demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of health workers said to have improperly injected them causing them and their children untold misery.

It is feared that the number could be much higher especially in Kakapel area of Teso North sub county.

Interviews with some of the parents returned a picture of innocent village folk who were helpless and betrayed by the health system.

There was an outcry in the county following Thursday’s report by the Daily Nation highlighting the condition of the children.

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A medical expert had said that the condition could have been caused by an injury inflicted on a nerve by a needle or the use of expired drugs.

The nurse in charge of the facility, was on Thursday suspended and investigations into the shocking case, which has raised questions about the quality of medical care and in public hospitals.

HEREDITARY PROBLEM

In some cases reported by the Nation on Wednesday, the parents claimed, the children’s feet were rotting away.

“My seven-year-old son had malaria and he was injected with some medicine and a few minutes after leaving the facility, my son could not walk. The condition worsened and he cannot even move his limbs now,” said Mrs Annette Osiya at the county headquarters, who said she was told that it was a hereditary problem.

Mrs Mary Amoit said that her child developed walking problems on the same day he received an injection at the medical facility.

“The nurse sent me away claiming that she was doing her job and that it was a normal reaction of the drug injection. But it never was. My boy’s legs is rotting from the inside and I do not know what to do,” a distraught Mrs Amoit told the Nation at the dispensary Thursday.

Mrs Amoit claimed that she was referred to Alupe sub district hospital, a 56 kilometres away after being turned away three times by the nurse.

“I went to Alupe three times because I wanted my child to get well. But after the trips, I was so drained financially I could not go again. I now just watch my son’s walking ability fade and hope for help,” she said.

The county health minister Maurice Siminyu said the suspended nurse was helping with investigations into the issue which some of the parents claim started in 2013.

“The nurse who had been deployed to the injection room has been suspended from duty until investigation is complete,” Dr Siminyu told journalists at the Busia referral hospital.

He added: “We are narrowing down on two possibilities on whether the nurse injected at the wrong side or irritation to the nerve could as well resulted from the drugs which were administered.”

Records show that the children were given injections with Quinine, Diclofenac and Plasim.

Dr Siminyu said that the children suffered from a condition he called sciatica, an injury to nerves which affects movement and sensation of the lower limbs.

“All the patients confirmed they were injected on the side where the paralysis had eventually resulted,” he said adding that the affected children were aged between four and 11 years.

FOOT SUPPORTS

Dr Siminyu said duration over which these injuries are said to have been sustained was between March this year to date adding that they were injected to different children at different times.

However, Nation spoke to children that said they had been suffering for much longer than the duration under scrutiny.

Eleven-year-old Ken Murungu says he cannot concentrate in class after he was received this deadly injection two years ago.

“My legs suddenly couldn’t walk and I have sharp pains whenever I try to stretch it. I also have a wound that just never heals which is now rotting away,” said the standard four pupil at Kaeset Primary School.

Veline Apita whose right leg is totally paralysed cannot stretch it at all and she has to use walking aids. She can no longer play with her friends like she did before she received that fateful injection on June 17, 2013.

Dr Siminyu said the county had prepared ankle foot Orthosis prosthetics to support the two children with foot drop so that they cannot drag their feet while walking.

“The county has taken upon itself to ensure that all children who were affected are taken care of until they get well. We have sent a physiotherapist to the facility with all the necessary equipment and we have all the hopes that they will recover,” he said.

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