Community-based support for children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus in Uganda
Spina bifida is a congenital anomaly (commonly referred to as a birth defect) in which the spinal column does not develop normally during the first weeks of pregnancy. This causes permanent damage to the spinal cord and nervous system, and can result in paralysis of the lower limbs or problems with bowel and bladder function.
Most babies with spina bifida also develop hydrocephalus, a condition in which spinal fluid builds up inside the head, causing pressure to increase and the skull to expand to a larger than normal size. It can also cause convulsions, tunnel vision, mental disability or death.
The risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida can be reduced by up to 70% if the mother takes adequate amounts of folic acid every day before becoming pregnant. Sources of folic acid include whole grains, fortified staple foods like wheat and maize flour, dried beans, leafy vegetables and fruits or supplements containing folic acid.
This photo gallery focuses on a community-based rehabilitation worker in Uganda who is improving the survival and quality of life of children with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus. The gallery includes images of children affected by spina bifida and the ways in which their lives are improving due to care in line with WHO’s guidelines on community-based rehabilitation.