Disability Day: MD urges support for spinal cord patients

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Dr Mohammed Salihu, Medical Director, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dala (NOHD) Kano, has called on NGOs, development partners and well-meaning Nigerians to support the rehabilitation of spinal cord patients in the country.

Salihu made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Kano.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is globally celebrated annually on Dec. 3, to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

Salihu said the rehabilitation of people living with disabilities, especially of spinal cord patients, was becoming a challenge for the hospital to manage alone.

“When we look at the statistics of spinal cord injury as a result of accident in the emergency ward, the statistics in this hospital is alarming; we received 4,000 individuals this year.

“We received individuals involve in spinal cord injury annually and they keep coming.

“The thing with spinal cord injury cases is that, if they don’t present them to hospital early enough, the injury becomes permanent and irreversible and it can lead to permanent disability.

“So, this group of people needs a lot of support and rehabilitation,’’ the medical director said.

Salihu, however, said some NGOs had been supporting the hospital in the rehabilitation of the amputees.

He commended the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for supporting the rehabilitation of amputees in the hospital and appealed to the organisation to also support spinal cord injury patients.

The ICRC, under its Prosthetic Rehabilitation Programme (PRP), has been collaborating with NOHD to rehabilitate people with disabilities by providing them with free artificial limbs and legs.

No fewer than 608 amputees of bomb blast and other explosions from the North-East and Kano have been rehabilitated by ICRC since the establishment of the centre in 2016.

Salihu said apart from the individuals who lost their limbs, there were other forms of disabilities like auto crash among others in the country.

The managing director said the hospital had built a Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Centre to cater for the group.

He said that the hospital used to have only eight beds for spinal cord injury patients some years back, adding that the number had increased to 20 beds.

The medical director expressed optimism that with the support from well-meaning Nigerians, the hospital would be able to finish and equip its 50-bed capacity building under construction.

He said that managing spinal cord patients required a lot of resources; hence the need to support the patients and provide capacity building for the personnel that would be working in the centre.

“It requires education before you can even talk about treatment; we have taken it seriously and we have a separate provision for it.

“We have also trained quite a lot of surgeons and now, the hospital has 15 spine surgeons  and we are trying to do a lot so that we get the best for the spinal cord injury patients,’’ he said.

The medical director said persons living with disabilities found themselves in that situation without planning for it, so they deserved support from Nigerians.

“They have found themselves in that level by accident and it can happen to anyone.

“Therefore, we need to rally round all our disables and give them maximum support, for them to be part of the society.’


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