Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services in Uganda (CoRSU) is changing the way Ugandans view physical disorders formerly considered ‘normal’ in many households.
For example, 300 children will not have to grow up with bow legs or Blount’s disease, after the rehabilitation hospital performed life- changing surgery on them.
Speaking during the grand opening of a state-of-the-art septic ward on October 31, at the hospital in Kisubi along Entebbe road, Davide Naggi, the hospital chief executive officer, said the hospital performed a total of 5,168 surgical operations in one year and that included 300 children with bow legs.
He said one in five patients admitted is infected or at high risk of infection requiring appropriate isolated and protected environment, thus the need for a septic ward.
Naggi said although the hospital has 64 beds, the patients using the facilities exceed its capacity, causing overcrowding. With funding from CMB Italy, CoRSU constructed a septic ward to minimize hospital-acquired infection, as well as treatment of surgical site infections.
The new ward has 24 beds and will offer a special environment and isolation services for septic patients to promote faster recovery. The ward will also improve the nurse-to-patient ratio in the ward which is currently at 1:10; in the new septic ward the ratio will be reduced to 1:6.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, who was guest of honor, pledged to send a committee to look at the facility and write a report to lobby government for support through ministry of health.
“We need to address public health concerns in our systems; so, my committee will come and assess this and we discuss it at parliament,” she said.
According to a CoRSU research carried out in 2012, about 10 per cent of the surgical procedures in Uganda become septic, which adds pressure on their family and hospital staff.
The infections pose therapeutic challenges and are associated with substantially longer duration of hospital stay, with increased hospital cost, higher morbidity and mortality.
According to Dr Paul Muwa, an orthopaedic surgeon, bow legs also known as tibia arum or tibia vara, is common in toddlers and young children. Many toddlers have bow legs due to the folded position in the mother’s womb.
This curvature remains until the muscles of the lower back and legs are strong enough to support them in the upright position. Bow legs may also be caused by illnesses such as abnormal bone development, fractures that don’t heal correctly and lack of vitamin D in the body.
According to Dr Muwa, toddlers that are fat or overweight for their age and those that walk early are most often affected. As the child walks, the repeated stress and compression of extra weight suppresses growth of the developing bone. Metabolic disorders such as deficiency of vitamin D are the other causes of bow legs.
He said juvenile or adolescent Blount’s disease is usually caused by obesity but can be the result of infection or trauma that disrupted the medial growth plate.
Although there may not be obvious symptoms, patients with adolescent tibia varum usually complain of pain along the medial side of the knee. The child may have trouble walking without tripping.
Most of the time bow legs resolve on their own with time as the child grows.
No specific treatment is needed unless the problem persists after two years.
In advanced stages, correction of bow legs requires surgery; however, surgery is not usually done on children under the age of two because it is difficult to tell if the child has Blount’s or not.